Edited by Irina A. Sekerina, Lauren Spradlin and Virginia Valian
[Studies in Bilingualism 57] 2019
► pp. 181–205
Chapter 12. Predicting executive functions in bilinguals using ecologically valid measures of code-switching behavior
One of the factors claimed to impact executive functions in bilinguals is code-switching. New insights into how exactly code-switching affects executive functions can be obtained if attention is paid to the kind of code-switching bilinguals engage in, and not just the frequency of code-switching. This raises the question of how code-switching habits can be assessed in experimental research. This study presents two ecologically valid, yet efficient, methods of assessing code-switching habits: a frequency judgment task based on authentic stimuli, and a bilingual email production task. The two tasks converged in revealing differences in dense code-switching in two groups of German-English bilinguals. Moreover, the frequency judgment task predicted code-switching frequency in the ecologically more valid email production task. Importantly, both tasks revealed code-switching patterns that explained group differences observed in executive performance. The bilinguals engaging in frequent dense code-switching excelled at the aspect of executive functions (conflict monitoring) predicted to be related to code-switching based on existing processing models. Hence, both methods are recommended for use as code-switching measurements in bilingualism research.
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