Can a First Language Be Totally Forgotten? II

There is new evidence that a first language that is forgotten is still present in the brain. Neural representations acquired early in life do not seem to be overwritten and can be shown to be present if the right approach is used.

Learning Languages in the Classroom and "in the Wild"

Key differences between second language learning in the classroom and naturalistic learning lie in the memory systems involved, and in the depth and nature of language processing.

Does Processing Language Differently Mean More Efficiently?

Current research is helping us understand in what way bilinguals are different from monolinguals when they process language and in what way they are similar. But where does efficiency come in? An example is taken from a study that has received world wide attention just recently.

Passing for a Native Speaker

Can second language learners ever attain native-like proficiency? Is there a critical period after which we can no longer become native-like in a second language? To answer these questions, we will look at the lives of two famous spies in light of some recent research.

Chasing Down Those 65%

Humans love numbers and bilinguals are no exception. For a long time, most researchers said that about half the world's population is bilingual but then 65% was proposed. Where does this percentage come from and is it possible?

Bilingual Cognitive Advantage: Where Do We Stand?

In the past few months, bilingualism researchers have engaged in a heated debate about the existence, scope, and sources of the bilingual cognitive advantage in several scholarly journals.

The Languages you Speak to Your Bilingual Child

Children who are being brought up with two or more languages need as much input as they can from each language. Parents can play a major role in this by choosing which language(s) they speak to them in the home.

Poetry and the Language of the Heart

Do we process emotions differently in our respective languages? An answer can be found in the language chosen by bilingual poets, in swearwords used by bilinguals, and in experimental studies of affective processing.

Understanding the Bilingual Brain

One of the most exciting areas in bilingualism research concerns the bilingual brain. Professor Arturo Hernandez, who has published a new book on the topic, answers questions about his field and the crucial link that between the mind and the brain.

Bilingual Memory

What role does language play in how we remember our past? The famous novelist, Vladimir Nabokov, found out firsthand when he wrote his autobiography first in English, then in Russian, and finally in English again.

A Bilingual Challenge

Writing a book in one language is something special but writing another book, on the same subject, in your other language is even more special. Here is a personal testimony of this bilingual challenge.

Life as a Bilingual

The blog "Life as a bilingual" is more than three years old and it has attracted many readers interested in what it means to live with two or more languages. This is a short status report.

Cognitive Advantages of Second Language Immersion Education

The linguistic and educational success of second language immersion education is now well established but, until recently, far less was known about the progress made in cognitive skills by immersion children. Recent research enlightens us on this issue.

The Mysteries of Bilingualism II

Many aspects of bilingualism have been described extensively at the linguistic level but some still need to be accounted for fully at the cognitive and neurolinguistic levels.

Discovering Thanksgiving

When you come to a new country, differences in the way people live, work and socialize are often quite visible. But other aspects, engrained in the host culture, are hidden, and you have to be introduced to them. This is how a family discovered Thanksgiving.

From Second Language Learning to Bilingualism in Schools

Learning a second (or foreign) language has been possible in schools since the beginning of education. For a long time, however, it was just a subject matter learned in a rather formal way. Now interesting new approaches are being used to develop bilingualism and biliteracy in schools.

The Bilingual Mind

Learning another language may reshape cognitive processes such as perception, categorization, memory and self-perception, and thereby reorganize the structure of the mind. Dr. Aneta Pavlenko answers questions about her new book which addresses the intriguing relationship between language and thought in bi- and multilinguals.

Perceptual Insensibility in a Second Language

It is a well-known fact that producing the correct gender of nouns is sometimes difficult for speakers of a second language. But can they nevertheless make use of this cue when they are listening to speech? A study examined this and found some fascinating results.

When Bilinguals Listen

When bilinguals are listening to, or reading, just one language, are their other languages involved? For many years, researchers answered positively but positions are evolving as new studies are being done and more factors are controlled.

How Early a Second Language?

There is a common belief that the earlier a second language is acquired, the more fluent a child will be in it. But how true is this?

The Bilingual Brain

Neuroimaging techniques are allowing researchers to better understand how the brain organizes and processes the languages of bilinguals. A set of studies are described which show how the nature of the languages used, and the type of bilinguals studied, have an impact on the results found.

The Mysteries of Bilingualism I

Even though we know much more about bilingualism than we ever did, many aspects of life with two or more languages remain enigmatic. Three such mysteries are discussed here.

Forgotten? Try Your Other Language

Recent research on the relationship between language and memory in bilinguals has produced some very interesting results. It would appear that both autobiographical knowledge as well as more general, factual, knowledge are guided by language.

Do They Know As Many Words?

It is a constant worry of parents and educators that bilingual children may not know as many words as their monolingual peers. Where do we stand on this issue after two decades of research?

Noam Chomsky on Bilingualism

It is rare that you have the opportunity to sound out one of the great minds of our time on a scientific topic that you are interested in. This happened to me when I interviewed Noam Chomsky on bilingualism.

When Bilinguals Speak

Psycholinguists have developed very refined experimental procedures to show that bilingual language production is a dynamic process which can operate in different language activation states. A recent study illustrates this.

Advantages of Being Bicultural

There are many advantages to being bicultural, two of which are greater creativity and professional success as shown in a recent study. The underlying psychological mechanism that accounts for this is enhanced integrative complexity.

Coming Back to Bilingualism

A young bilingual child stopped speaking one of his languages when he came to the United States for some 15 months. The linguistic and social strategies he adopted when he returned to his home country and once again became bilingual make for some fascinating reading.

False Friends and Other Unwanted Companions

Living with two languages is full of mysteries. One of them is how a language that has been deactivated when we speak or write monolingually nevertheless sometimes comes through in the form of interferences.

Why Are They Talking So Fast?

When we listen to a language we do not master well, we often feel that the speech rate is faster than in our native language. Research has investigated whether there is evidence for this and, if so, how it can be accounted for.