Edited By Magdalena Olpinska-Szkieko and Loretta Bertelle
Investigating the Dynamics of Bilingual Lexical Access: An Overview of the Background and Goals of the Ongoing Study with Polish Learners of English
In this paper, we outline some fundamental issues related to lexical access in bilingual language processing and briefly present the goals of one of the projects currently being conducted in our lab which looks at the dynamics of lexical access in second language learners. One of the crucial questions in research on cognitive aspects of bilingualism is what mechanisms (cognitive and neural) allow successful language comprehension and production in individuals that know more than one language. Given what cognitive science has established about the bilingual mind in the past two decades, the ability to successfully use the language which is appropriate at a given point in time, is not a trivial feat for our mind. What makes us appreciate this ability is, among others, the discovery that the bilingual cognitive system is fundamentally non-selective with respect to language activation (for review of the findings see: Kroll, Bobb, Wodniecka 2006). This means that for a person who knows more than one language, other languages cannot be ‘switched-off’. Consequently, there must be a mechanism in place that mitigates the concurrent activation of multiple languages in one mind. Cognitive scientists are still in the process of exploring various possible operations that can support language use in multilinguals and there are still many ‘pieces’ that need to be better understood before the puzzle is put together.
One of the pieces of the ‘bilingual puzzle’ is related to the ease with which we retrieve words from our memory and the dynamical...
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