Influence of a brief second language inmersion on linguistic and cognitive processing

  1. Cristina Baus
Supervised by:
  1. Manuel Francisco Carreiras Valiña Director
  2. Adelina Estévez Monzó Director
  3. Albert Costa Martínez Director

Defence university: Universidad de La Laguna

Year of defence: 2010

Committee:
  1. Núria Sebastián Gallés Chair
  2. Carlos Javier Álvarez González Secretary
  3. Niels Janssen Committee member
  4. Horacio A. Barber Friend Committee member
  5. Guillaume Thierry Committee member
Department:
  1. Psicología Cognitiva, Social y Organizacional

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 296601 DIALNET

Abstract

In the present dissertation we aimed to answer the question about the influence of a brief second language immersion on linguistic and cognitive processing. To that aim we explored the behavioural and electrophysiological performance of a group of German Erasmus students spending a semester in Tenerife. L2 learners on the immersion context are forced to use more often L2 and less often L1, but in fact both languages needed to be used appropriately during the time of immersion. Given that this is what all bilingual speakers do in their every day life, we consider bilingual speech production as the background of the present work. Specifically, we consider the collateral effects associated to bilingualism on lexical access, on language control and executive control. Bilingualism has been associated to a linguistic disadvantage (relative to monolingual speakers) on those tasks requiring lexical access, and to a cognitive advantage on executive control. Based on this evidence, our question in the present work was: to what extent the effects associated to bilingualism can appear after relatively short exposure in a L2 context? Our results suggested that immersion rapidly influence lexical access, language control and executive control. Regarding lexical access, both in L2 and L1, immersion influenced L2 by increasing the L2 vocabulary size and L1 by loosing the ability to rapidly access L1 words. Regarding language control, a change was observed in the language control mechanisms in charge of ensure the successful selection of the intended language. Finally, regarding executive control, immersion only influenced positively how conflicting information is overridden when response inhibition was the responsible mechanism. In sum, to the obvious benefits that immersion confers to the learner regarding the fact that those learners are able to speak in two languages, we provided evidence how fast the linguistic and cognitive system of the L2 learner adapts to the context of learning.