Volume 8, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1879-9264
  • E-ISSN: 1879-9272
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Does early onset age of language learning in an informal setting always have a long-term advantage? We compared lexical access in adult heritage speakers of Spanish and late learners of Spanish in two word-production tasks, while also considering the speakers’ oral proficiency in their non-dominant language. In all speakers, word recall in the picture-naming task was less accurate and slower than in the translation task. Heritage speakers and late learners of high Spanish proficiency level were different only in the translation task, where learners were faster than heritage speakers, which may be explained by their experience with translation of visual input. These findings suggest that for a non-dominant language, an early onset of learning does not provide an advantage, at least when high-proficiency bilinguals, high-frequency words, and behavioral measures are concerned. Oral proficiency matters most, as it correlates with frequency of language use.


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