Volume 2, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1879-9264
  • E-ISSN: 1879-9272
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Recent psycholinguistic research demonstrates that using a second language has consequences for the first language (e.g. Dussias, 2003; Van Hell & Dijkstra, 2002) and for domain-general cognitive processes (Bialystok, 2005). This work suggests that the language system is permeable, with cross-language exchange at every level of processing (Malt & Sloman, 2003). Critically, even proficient bilinguals appear unable to switch off the language not in use when they hear, read, or speak one language alone (e.g. Dijkstra, 2005; Kroll, Bobb, & Wodniecka, 2006; Marian & Spivey, 2003), creating cross-language competition. In this article, we describe research that considers how cross-language activation is modulated during spoken production and during the earliest stages of second language learning. We hypothesize that the open nature of the bilingual’s language system may create optimal conditions for new language learning and also for enhanced cognitive control that enables effective selection of the language to be spoken.


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