All posts by Ewa

Bilinguals have better cognitive control than monolinguals

Bilingual benefits reach beyond communication

Ellen Bialystok (York University), Fergus I.M. Craik (Rotman Research Institute), David W. Green (University College London), and Tamar H. Gollan have discussed in Psychological Science in the Public Interest the influences of bilingualism that reach beyond communication tasks.

Having to control interference from one language when speaking another, a bilingual person is better prepared to deal with exercises requiring attention and multitasking. However, though bilinguals are shown to have better cognitive control, they may score lower in vocabulary tests used by psychologists to determine various impairments.

For more information read on: Association for Psychological Science: Bilingual Benefits Reach Beyond Communication

Reading in native tongue affected by second language

Second language changes the way bilinguals read in their native tongue.

Eva Van Aassche has studied 45 bilingual (Dutch-English) students as they read sentences in Dutch. The results showed that the subjects were faster at reading words that are similar in both languages. It suggests that when reading in their native tongue bilinguals still have access to words in their second language, which affects  the way the native language is processed.

It could be evidence for an existence of an internal “switch” that turns on and off the interference of two languages in a bilingual brain.

For more information read on: BPS Research Digest: Second language changes the way bilinguals read in their native tongue

Thinking for speaking

You can probably remember George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. The society described by Orwell uses a language called Newspeak, which serves as one of the tools of repression. The theory behind Newspeak is based on a belief that if humans cannot form the words to express the ideas underlying a revolution, then they cannot revolt. Newspeak is aimed at eliminating such words like ‘freedom’ or ‘revolution’, so that “a heretical thought … should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words.”

Continue reading Thinking for speaking

Memories… in bilingual speakers

My past has raised its head and it is panting into my neck. Memories come in packs and surround me wherever I go, howling in the moonlight. Remember me? Remember how we laughed and quarreled and sat silently? Wait, what did you say then? Oh, yes. Hai detto che ami parlare con me. Ed io ho risposto, smiling, che certo che lo ami, perché sei sempre tu a parlare.

Continue reading Memories… in bilingual speakers

Are YOU bilingual? – Definition of bilingualism

Most people would use the label ‘bilingual’ when speaking of a two-year-old of Polish-British origin, who at this stage of language acquisition governs about 200 words, while a Polish graduate in English philology, who may have spent a considerable amount of time in Great Britain and whose vocabulary consists of thousands of items, is not usually thought of as a bilingual. Continue reading Are YOU bilingual? – Definition of bilingualism