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Differences between Bilingual in Either Attention Focused or Less Focused Conditions

Whether a bilingual’s brain process language in a different way from the brain of a monolingual or not is a question of concern. Initially, being a bilingual was seen as anomaly but in contrary to this perception, most people around the world are bilingual or even multilingual. Comparisons between bilinguals and monolinguals in terms of their way of absorbing language or recruiting classic language areas within their brains in response to tasks in language could provide a better idea of who between the two individuals in more advantaged. A significant portion of research conducted recently concerning the issue of bilingualism seems to establish that bilingual individuals are more advantageous than their monolingual counterparts in absorbing foreign languages. This is initiated by the fact that the human brain can function better or adequately with many language systems. The availability of many researches about the acquisition of a second language highly supports the idea better cognitive processing abilities among bilinguals as compared to the monolinguals.

Considering the case, which considers old English nouns, monolingual and bilinguals have various ways of learning the plural morphology of the nouns. In the experiment, students learned about the stems of the nouns first and later the plural of these nouns. The students in this case are able to learn about the plural of the words through the sensational context of modern English. It was found that most of the students seemed to learn the plural case best in silence. A GJ task was also given to the students in which the task involved sentences that were grammatically correcting and meaningful as well as sentences that were grammatically correct but anomalous. The results in this case the shows that bilingual group of students are more advantaged than their monolingual counterparts. This aspect is mainly exhibited in terms of the control sentence whereby the performance of the bilingual students happens to be far much better than that of monolinguals.

The case is reverse for the analysis sentence whereby the bilinguals perform better when in silence. Monolinguals however exhibit advantage in the control sentence. The experiment shows that bilingual are as good as the monolingual in most aspects of their common language especially if the language in question is their first language. The experiment was purposely initiated to ensure the manipulation of attention during learning. In this case, it came out that within a silent condition where monolinguals exhibit concentration, their performance on their second language is almost the same as the monolinguals in either condition. It comes out that although the bilingual individuals could have some seeable problems with their second language, they could do very well whenever they concentrate fully.

Furthermore, their second language may have nothing to do with creating problems to their first language. This aspect can be strengthened by a number of other similar experiments as well as theories concerned with language acquisition. In any case, it would always be held that learning of language within more attentionally focused conditions would all participants to perform better, especially in the language tasks, which require much attention. This has been shown in the experiment whereby both the monolingual participants and the bilinguals exhibit the same proficiency within silent conditions. It comes out that attention achievement in learning is critical in helping the tasks requiring control. From the experiment, it can be argued that bilinguals have a natural power to focus their attention on appropriate structural properties, especially when they are learning language. This makes them more advantageous than the monolinguals in the control sentence and equally advantageous in the structural sentence. Generally, bilinguals have advantage over the monolinguals. The same case could be supported by other experiments similar to the one discussed above. Even in previous studies, bilinguals are argued to show more advantage in their language than their monolingual counterparts.

A case of highly proficient adult English-Spanish bilinguals who are highly exposed to early foreign language acquisition provides a clarification for this argument. In this case, English monolinguals and Spanish-English bilinguals took part in planned competitions in a functional magnetic resonance imaging. In this competition, the participants had to complete a structured sentence judgment task (Caplan, 2001). In this experiment, the structured sentences exploited some significant difference between Spanish and English properties of linguistics. This aspect gave the researchers a good chance of exploring the similarities as well as the differences in both behavior and the neutral responses between monolinguals and bilinguals. The researchers could also get clarifications in terms of the two languages to the bilingual participants. It was established that whenever bilinguals’ neutral processing activity differ across the two languages, differential, behavioral, as well as neutral patterns would be observed in English and Spanish.

Behaviorally, both bilinguals and monolinguals have the same speed as well as accuracy when it comes to their first language, which in this case was English. Conversely, the bilingual participants showed that performance in a second language usually differ significantly. The differences shown in Spanish as a second language to the participant is principled as well as predictable, but these factors are based on the differences exhibited between the two languages in terms of their morphosyntactic differences. A significant difference is within the fact that bilinguals have a significantly higher increase in their blood oxygenation level dependent-signals whenever they are processing their first language as compared to the monolinguals. This happens due to the difference in the way of conceptualizing cognitive processes. In the experiment, it comes out that although the bilingual participants are conversant with both languages and more importantly that they can compete effectively of happen to be better in mastering their first language, they still have problems in accuracy and speed when it comes to Spanish, their second language.

Questions on whether bilinguals could ever acquire two language systems fully arise due to the many cases of inaccuracy in using a second language. The experiment on English-Spanish test was meant to show that acquiring a second language does not readily affect the fluency in the first language. Now, many debates exist on whether acquiring two or more languages promote or destruct the processing activity of the first language or even the two languages, or either of the two languages. While monolinguals are found to be perfect in their only language, this may not imply that a bilingual would lose some of his/her confidence of fluencies in using his/her first language. Typically, studies seem to suggest that the first language in any bilingual is hardly affected in a negative manner by a second language especially if the bilingual acquired the second language at an adult age.

This would be the case especially when the learner employs much attention focus, which could even better his or skills in the two languages during formal tasks. The big question among researchers has been whether bilinguals’ brains process linguistic information in exactly the same way the brain of a monolingual does. Again, researchers strive to find out whether early exposure to dual language modify one’s ability in language proficiency by modifying the neutral tissues in a classic way that makes the language processing processes among bilinguals completely different as compared to monolinguals. Based on such questions, neutral organization is said or thought to gain influence from environmental experiences. This implies that many experiences of childhood like sensory deprivation, learning how to read, learning music, as well as delays in the exposure to languages has great potential in yielding a very long impact on the respective individuals in terms of their behaviors and on their brain organization (Newman, Bavelier, Corina, Jezzard, & Neville, 2002).

Most of the previous research has hardly involved direct studies of language process within the human brain and more specifically on the brain of bilinguals. Most of the studies seemed to focus on monolinguals. According to Klein, Watkins, Zatorre, & Milner, (2006), most of the studies focused on language processing within bilinguals’ brains who had early or late exposure to language. These are individuals with high proficiency in both their two languages against those individuals having proficiency in only one of their two languages. In such as case, the studies aimed to compare the way in which the brains of bilingual individuals and those of monolingual individuals processed linguistic information. The experiments made use of a combination of functional magnetic and behavioral resonance techniques in order to understand if being purely bilingual modifies the neutral sites that are dedicated to classic language as well as the pathway, which underlies the processing of human language. It was also critical to find out whether there could be neutral signatories to being a bilingual. An instance case of this concern is whether being exposed to two languages at an early age could modify the way bilinguals recruit the brain tissue of classic language as compared to the respective brain tissue of monolinguals. Again, the resulting behavioral consequences, any possible improvement, or even deficits in one’s language process in the two languages or at least one of the two languages was worth considering.

What bilinguals understand about their languages and the way bilinguals organize the skills of the systems for the two languages has been a major area of focus by psycholinguistic literature. The question on whether bilinguals have a general language representational system or whether they have two distinct language representational systems has been a major concern in this case. For the case of neuroscience literature, the major concern has been whether the processing of bilingual language draws upon some common neutral systems, or two neutral systems that are completely distinct. The understanding of the way bilingual individuals process items has been advanced by decades of psycholinguistic research on adults. In this case, the understanding is extended to the way the processing of items by bilinguals is compares with that of monolinguals (Gollan & Kroll, 2001).

Moreover, strong evidence showing that bilinguals differ from monolinguals exists. Such differences are mainly seen in the case of dual lexicons existence, nature and existence of connections in their dual lexical representations that are differentiated, and in terms of the control required in using a lexical item in contrary to the other. Studies in this case have established that bilinguals translate concrete words in a way that is faster as compared to their ability to translate abstract words according to Hell & Groot, (1998). Again, it has been established that bilinguals are able to become semantically primed within a one of their languages to produce a corresponding word in their second language or even in the reverse way according to Kroll & Sunderman (2003). This aspect suggests that despite the fact that lexico-semantic representation along the two lexicons of a bilingual can portray facilitation, such representations involve distinct lexical stores.

It has also been suggested that there is an existence of only one lexico-semantic store that is combined and is similar to that of monolinguals. These aspects could further explain why the bilingual students proved to be better than the monolingual student in the Stimuli for experiment 3. Based on the same aspects, little has been provided about the differences existing between bilinguals and monolinguals in the way they process other critical aspects of language and more specifically in the structure of language such syntax and morphology. Syntax and morphology are two important aspects of language, which are very crucial in processing full sentences within a natural language. Focusing on these aspects could further show distinctive advantages of the bilinguals versus the monolinguals.

In the case of young bilinguals, psycholinguistic research shows that young bilinguals develop two linguistic systems that are entirely differentiated. The differentiation is mainly from early in their infancy stages according to Petitto & Kovelman (2003). From such an understanding a contrast can be established with regard to earlier claims that two language of young bilinguals are mainly fused within one language system in general specifically during their early life. The system hardly becomes differentiated into two different linguistic systems until these children attains the age of four year or five years old (Vihman, 1985). Contemporary developmental findings could be consistent with differentiated language presence and the associated representations among young bilinguals, but this claim hardly suggests that the two languages used by a bilingual hardly interact. There many evidences of influence from cross-linguistics in young children.

Cross-linguistic influence implies that some aspects of one language practiced by bilingual children generate some impact on the other language (Paradis & Navarro, 2003). The effect of cross-linguistic is extended to aspects like language competences, world information, sound perceptions, sentence structures, and word meanings according to Kohnert, Bates, and Hernandez (1999). Adults also depict some aspects of cross-linguistic influence. The effect in this case is however not generalized to all bilingual adults, but to some individuals in their late ages, especially the low-proficiency bilinguals. This happens when the processing of their second language is significantly influenced by their first language, which in this case is dominant according to Liu, Bates, & Li (1992).

Examination on the same aspect made by Hernandez (1994), suggests that the comprehension of a language entail a process in which various forms of linguistic sets compete with an effort of yielding a particular interpretation. In this case, it was suggested that adults who are bilingual predominantly make use of amalgamation strategies of forming combinations of morphosyntactic forms that are specifically taken from both of their languages. These individuals follow this strategy instead of using differentiated strategies in which language-specific forms are used for each of their two languages. Grosjean (2001) also suggested that bilinguals could have the capabilities of processing their two languages independently but in a parallel way thereby generating difficulties and complications to researchers in determining the instances of bilinguals’ language production, which provide examples of amalgamation, parallel processing, and dominance in the case of two linguistic systems that are fully differentiated. This could depict that adults are a bit different from children especially when their second language was acquired at a later age.

The proficiency of young children in using two languages seems to depend on various factors according to the existing research. Studies by classic neuropsychological researchers dealing with bilingual aphasics indicate that individuals could selectively lose one of the two languages, but not the other. This supports the view on language differentiation, which also affects the way some individuals especially children would perform language tasks very accurately, but react slowly according to Paradis (1977). On the other hand, neuroimaging studies that focus on ages of first exposure to bilingual and the level of proficiency in the two languages reflect the resulting effect or process to the organization of the bilingual brain and language processing. Typically, early exposure to bilingual language is strongly believed to result to practice of bilingual individuals including children to use exactly the same neural tissue in processing their two languages. In general, bilingual children grow up to be proficient in their two languages, but the proficiency could be affected by various factors as the individual grows. Previous studies and literatures have provides many reasons on why bilingual children perform some tasks with great accuracy, but they are slow in their reacting times.

Works Cited

Bates E, Devescovi A, D’Amico S. “Processing complex sentences: A cross-linguistic study.” Language Cognitive Processes. (1999):14:69–123. Print.

Caplan D, Alpert N, Waters G. “Effects of syntactic structure and propositional number on patterns of regional cerebral blood flow.” Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.Vol. 10 (1998):541–552. Print

Grosjean F, editor. The bilingual’s language modes. Blackwell Publishing; Malden, MA: 2001. Print.

Kroll JF, Stewart E. “Category interference in translation and picture naming: Evidence for asymmetric connection between bilingual memory representations.” Journal of Memory and Language. Vol. 33 (1994):149–174. Print.

Liu H, Bates E, Li P. “Sentence interpretation in bilingual speakers of English and Chinese.” Applied Psycholinguistics.Vol. 13 (1992):451–484. Print.

Newman AJ, Bavelier D, Corina D, Jezzard P, Neville HJ. “A critical period for right hemisphere recruitment in American sign language processing.” National Journal of Neuroscience, Vol.5 (2002):76–80. Print.

Penfield, W and R. Lamar. Speech and brain-mechanisms. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1959. Print.

Van Hell JG, De Groot AMB. “Disentangling context availability and concreteness in lexical decision and word translation.” The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology: Series A, Human Experimental Psychology.Vol.51 (1998):41–63. Print.

Vihman MM. “Language differentiation by the bilingual infant.” Journal of Child Language Vol.12 (1985)12:297–324. Print.

Wartenburger, I, et al. “Early setting of grammatical processing in the bilingual brain .” Neuron, Vol. 37 (2003): 159–170. Print.

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