Article published in:EUROSLA Yearbook: Volume 8 (2008)
Edited by Leah Roberts, Florence Myles and Annabelle David
[EUROSLA Yearbook 8] 2008
► pp. 6–31
The role of language cues in constraining cross-language activity
Recent psycholinguistic studies provide compelling evidence for the claim that both languages are active when second language (L2) learners and bilinguals process information in one language alone. The parallel activation of the two languages occurs even when individuals are performing highly practiced tasks such as reading, listening, and speaking, and even when they are highly proficient in both languages. The presence of cross-language activity in the absence of random errors, particularly for those who are highly proficient in the L2, suggests that a mechanism of cognitive control is in place to guide the selection of the intended language. The focus of current research is to understand the basis of this cognitive mechanism, how it varies as a function of individual differences in cognitive resources, and what consequences it holds for cognition more generally. In this paper we consider whether L2 learners and bilinguals are able to exploit cues to language status that might allow them to focus their attention on languagerelevant attributes of processing or to effectively inhibit information related to the language not in use as a means to control language selection. The results of the present study suggest that it is possible to create a functional language cue for planning the L2 and bias language selection.
Published online: 15 August 2008