Models of Bilingualism etc

SLA Topics  SLA Bibliography  Vivian Cook  NeuroModels


Levelt 1989

Levelt et al 1999

The Consequences of Bilingualism for Cognitive Processing

Monolingualist view: the norm for human beings is to know a single language; deviation from the monolingual standard is:
   either going to be a disadvantage (subtractive)
   or add something to the monolingual norm (additive)
Multilingualist view:
it is normal for human beings to know more than one language. It is the monolingual that is deficient.

Subtractive views of second language learning – the cognitive

  • deficiency in processing the L2

  • deficiency in processing the L1

  • relationship to memory

Additive views of bilingualism

Metalinguistic awareness and L2 users

  • phonology and metalinguistic awareness

  • grammar and metalinguistic awareness

  • arbitrariness of the word

Other cognitive processes.

  • divergent thinking

  • creativity
  • more diversified set of mental abilities’
  • measures of conceptual development’, ‘creativity’, and ‘analogical reasoning’

L2 learning, Short-Term Memory, and Working Memory
- the span of L2 learners is restricted more than in their L1
- STM span increases as L2 learners develop
- working memory span in the L2 is related to how fast people can speak
- L2 users have a 'cognitive deficit' which makes many of their cognitive processes work slightly less well in the L2

L2 learning and Listening Processes
- L2 listening is an active process involving background schemas etc
- both 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' parsing is involved
- ineffective L2 students rely too much on bottom-up parsing

Listening involves:

i) access to words
ii) parsing: the process through which the mind works out the grammatical structure and
meaning of the sentence either 'top-down' or bottom-up

iii) memory processes and cognition


Bialystok, E. (1993), ‘Metalinguistic dimensions of bilingual language proficiency’, in E. Bialystok (ed.), Language Processing in Bilingual Children, CUP, 113-140

Brown, G.D.A. & Hulme, C. (1992), ‘Cognitive processing and second language processing: the role of short tem memory’, in R.J. Harris (ed.) Cognitive Processing in Bilinguals, Elsevier, 105-121

Cook ,V.J. (1997), ‘The consequences of bilingualism for cognitive processing’ in A.M.B de Groot & J.F Kroll (eds.) Tutorials in Bilingualism, Mahwah NJ: Erlbaum, 279-300

Durgunoglu, A.Y., & Roediger, H.L. (1989), ‘Test differences in accessing bilingual memory’, Journal of Memory and Language

Ellis, N., and Beaton, A. (!993), ‘Factors affecting the learning of foreign language vocabulary imagery keyword mediators and phonological short-term memory’, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 46A, 533-558

Ellis, N. (1992), ‘Lingusitic relativity revisited: the bilingual word length effect on short term memory’, in R.J. Harris (ed. 1992), 137-155).

Gathercole, S.E. and Baddeley, A.D. (1993), Working Memory and Language, Erlbaum

Hoosain, G.J. (1979), ‘Forward and backward digit span in the languages of the bilingual’, Journal of Genetic Psychology, 135, 263-268

Lehtonen, J., & Sajavaara, K. (1988), ‘Psycholinguistic testing of transfer in foreign-language speech processing’, Folia Linguistica, XXII, 179-202

Magiste, E. (1992), ‘Second language learning in elementary and high school students’, European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 4, 355-365

Service, E. (1992), ‘Phonology, working memory and foreign-language learning’, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 45A, 21-50