Chapter 8. Effects of cognitive control, lexical robustness, and frequency of codeswitching on language switching
This study explores the effects of individual differences on the production of words when switching between a strong and significantly weaker language. Variables of interest included non-linguistic cognitive control, lexical robustness (i.e., the size and strength of the lexicon), and frequency of codeswitching in daily life. Seventy university students who were English (L1) speakers learning Spanish (L2) and French (L3) completed a language questionnaire and participated in: a Simon task; lexical robustness measures in all three languages; and a picture-naming task involving cued language switching between the L1 and L2. The results suggested that cognitive control and L2 lexical robustness had modulating effects on language switching, but only in limited cases. L3 lexical robustness did not affect L1-L2 language switching, however, both L1 and L2 lexical robustness had differential influences, with smaller differences between L1 and L2 switch costs being related to higher levels of L2. Counterintuitively, participants who reported more frequently codeswitching in daily life showed larger switch costs in both L1 and L2. We discuss the implications for these findings and emphasize the importance of examining a more comprehensive spectrum of variables that explain how multilingual experiences shape the networks that support cognition and language regulatory processes.