The Gdańsk School of ELT
Two languages in one mind: Towards a definition of the conscious bilingual
Conscious bilingualism sees language in its two varieties as vehicles for the construction of knowledge: meaningful signs, symbols and concepts are consciously incorporated into the individual’s cognitive structure. The ongoing interaction between the two languages in the learner’s mind results not only in positive cross-linguistic influences, but also in the emergence of the common underlying conceptual base, which contributes towards conceptual enrichment. With an analytical orientation towards both languages, the conscious bilingual acquires metalinguistic awareness and develops associated self-monitoring and self-regulatory mechanisms. Conscious reflection upon learning activities enhances metacognition, while increased sensitivity to ambiguity, figurative language and multiple meanings leads to greater originality and flexibility in language use. The capacity for abstract rational thought and creativity, expressed through the medium of the argumentative-poetic function of language, also fosters learner autonomy and motivation, which provides a basis for lifelong learning.
Key words: cognition, multicompetence, consciousness, reasoning, creativity
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