Bilingual advantage and language switch: What's the linkage?


  • Scaltritti Michele
  • Peressotti Francesca
  • Miozzo Michele

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Whether bilingualism affects executive functions is a topic of intense debate. While some studies have provided evidence of enhanced executive functions in bilinguals compared to monolinguals, other studies have failed to find advantages. In the present study, we investigated whether high opportunity of language switching could contribute to bilingual advantage. Advantages have been consistently found with Catalan-Spanish bilinguals who experience frequent opportunities of language switching. Fewer opportunities are experienced by speakers of Italian and one of the Italian dialects, the participants of our study. We anticipated reduced or no advantages with these participants. In Experiment 1, subjective estimates of familiarity with dialect failed to show a relationship with performances in different tasks involving executive control. In Experiment 2, we compared Italian-Venetian dialect bilinguals to Italian monolinguals in the flanker task, and no advantages were found either. Contrasting with results from Catalan-Spanish bilinguals, our results suggest that language switching plays a role in bilingual advantages.

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