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Bilingual memory advantage: Bilinguals use a common linguistic pattern as an aid to recall memory

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Abstract

Aims and objectives/purpose/research question: The aim of this study is to probe for language effects on bilingual episodic memory. The main research question is whether both languages of bilinguals are accessible and used as aids to memory regardless of which language is used for speaking, or whether each language used for verbalization affects memory in a language specific way.
Design/methodology/approach: Our methodology involves an experimental elicitation of event verbalizations and recall memory responses to video stimuli by English and Spanish monolinguals and proficient balanced bilinguals whose two languages are kept active throughout the experiment while they are describing what they see in one of the languages.
Data and analysis: The data analysis shows that there is a main effect of language, that is, the recall was overall more accurate in Spanish-speaking situations than in the English ones. However, the significance of the effect comes exclusively from the comparison between English monolinguals versus the other two groups: Spanish monolinguals and bilinguals. Spanish monolinguals and bilinguals speaking either English or Spanish all had better recall than the English monolingual
participants.
Originality: Language effects on monolingual versus bilingual witness memory are seldom investigated and the current knowledge about bilingual episodic memory in general is very limited.
Significance/implications: This study informs the theoretical assumptions related to monolingual and bilingual thinking-for-speaking research as well as offering, for the first time, empirical support towards our understanding of how bilinguals proficient in both languages “merge” their linguistic systems when storing information about events they witness in memory regardless of the language used to explicitly describe the event in verbalization.

Details

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingualism
Early online date19 Jun 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jun 2019
Peer-reviewedYes

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