30th Nov 2016 1:30pm
Checkland E513, Falmer Campus
Plasticity of native language phonetic and phonological domains and enhanced executive control in the context of bilingualism
Dr Esther de Leeuw, Queen Mary University, London
In this presentation, I will discuss a series of recent studies showing that there is plasticity in native language phonetic and phonological domains post adolescence. Various native languages will be presented, including Albanian (de Leeuw, Tusha, & Schmid, in review), German (de Leeuw, Mennen, & Scobbie, 2012, 2013; de Leeuw, Schmid, & Mennen, 2010), and Sylheti (McCarthy & de Leeuw, in preparation). The findings from both simultaneous (Sundara, Polka, & Baum, 2006) and late consecutive bilinguals (see de Leeuw, in review) reveal that bidirectional interaction occurs in the languages of the bilingual, even when a new language is learned late in life. The results from these studies challenge a critical period interpretation of language development in the context of bilingualism (see de Leeuw, in review). Instead, the results lend support to the idea that bilinguals, through the very act of being bilingual, undergo an increased cognitive load, leading to bidirectional interaction in their languages, with the potential outcome being enhanced executive control in bilinguals over monolinguals (Bialystok, 2009; de Leeuw, 2014). In addition to the studies examining bidirectional interaction in simultaneous and late consecutive bilinguals, I will also present new research which shows that bilinguals who use their second language more frequently are more likely to evidence enhanced executive control over bilinguals who use their second language less frequently (de Leeuw & Bogulski, 2016). In sum, I will propose that bidirectional interaction in phonetic and phonological domains in the context of bilingualism is a collateral result of enhanced executive control in bilinguals over monolinguals.