Home » Abstract » Development of L2 language proficiency, cross-language interaction, and executive functions in child L2 learners, bilinguals, and trilinguals: Parallel development trajectories?

Development of L2 language proficiency, cross-language interaction, and executive functions in child L2 learners, bilinguals, and trilinguals: Parallel development trajectories?

Greg Poarch (University of Münster) & Janet van Hell (Penn State University & Radboud University Nijmegen)

g.poarch@@gmx.net

Executive functions; Simon task; ANT; Bilinguals; Trilinguals; Second language learners; Cross-language activation

This talk combines two studies on cross-language interaction and executive functions in child L2 learners, and bilingual and multilingual children (1,2) and builds empirically on the emerging data on cross-language interaction during lexical access in adult bilinguals (e.g., 3, 4) and findings of enhanced cognitive functions in conflict resolution tasks (Simon Task; Attentional Networks Task) in child bilinguals compared to monolinguals (e.g., 5, 6, 7). In Study 1, using a picture naming paradigm with cognate manipulation, a bidirectional cognate facilitation effect was found in bilinguals and trilinguals but not in child L2 learners, in whom only the stronger L1 influenced the weaker L2. In Study 2, the Simon effect advantage differed across groups with bilinguals and trilinguals showing enhanced conflict resolution over monolinguals and marginally so over second language learners. In the ANT, the bilinguals and trilinguals displayed enhanced conflict resolution over second language learners. As enhanced executive functions in bilingual children are assumed to stem from their permanent need to monitor, control, and shift between two languages, and that bidirectional cross-language activation is modulated by relative language proficiency and use, one may assume that both cross-language activation and cognitive control develop in parallel along the same trajectory. Thus viewed together, the results of both studies may indicate parallel development of relative language proficiency and corresponding cross-language activation, on the one hand, and an enhanced development of executive functions, on the other hand.

 

References

[1] Poarch, G. J., & Van Hell, J. G. Cross-language activation in children’s speech production: Evidence from second language learners, bilinguals, and trilinguals. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 111:419–438, 2012a.

[2] Poarch, G. J., & Van Hell, J. G. Executive functions and inhibitory control in multilingual children: Evidence from second language learners, bilinguals, and trilinguals. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 113:535–551, 2012b.

[3] Costa, A., La Heij, W., & Navarrete, E. The dynamics of bilingual lexical access. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 9:137–151, 2006.

[4] Kroll, J. F., Sumutka, B. M., & Schwartz, A. I. A cognitive view of the bilingual lexicon: Reading and speaking words in two languages. International Journal of Bilingualism. 9:27–48, 2005.

[5] Carlson, S. M. & Meltzoff, A. N. Bilingual experience and executive functioning in young children. Developmental Science, 11:282–298, 2008.

[6] Martin-Rhee, M. M., & Bialystok, E. The development of two types of inhibitory control in monolingual and bilingual children. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 11:81–93, 2008.

[7] Yang, S., Yang, H., & Lust, B. Early childhood bilingualism leads to advances in executive attention: Dissociating culture and language. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 14:412–422, 2011.

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