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Interaction between grammatical categories and cognition in bilinguals: the role of proficiency, cultural immersion, and language of instruction

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2007
<mark>Journal</mark>Language and Cognitive Processes
Issue number5
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)689-699
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Previous studies have demonstrated that there is a tight link between grammatical concepts and cognitive preferences in monolingual speakers (Lucy 1992, Lucy & Gaskins 2003, Imai & Gentner 1997, Imai & Mazuka 2003). Recent research has also shown that bilinguals with languages that differ in their concepts may shift their cognitive preferences as a function of their proficiency (Athanasopoulos, 2006) or cultural immersion (Cook, Bassetti, Kasai, Sasaki, & Takahashi, 2006). The current short paper assesses the relative impact of each of these variables, and furthermore asks whether bilinguals alternate between two distinct cognitive representations of language-specific concepts depending on the language used in the experiment. Results from an object classification task showed that Japanese–English bilinguals shifted their behaviour towards the second language (L2) pattern primarily as a function of their L2 proficiency, while cultural immersion and language of instruction played a minimal role. These findings suggest that acquisition of novel grammatical categories leads to cognitive restructuring in the bilingual mind and have implications for the relationship between language and cognitive processing.