Research Article: “Beyond simple replication: Interactional context of language use determines the consequences of bilingualism”

Recently I read an article by Beatty Martinez that I found was very informative. This study examines three contexts: competitive bilinguals, cooperative bilinguals and immersed bilinguals. The competitive bilinguals live in Spanish and use English as their L2 in school and at work, exclusively use the language and most conversational exchanges in L1, the cooperative bilinguals live in Puerto Rico, English and Spanish frequently and mixed in life and work (equally in Spanish and English) they also code switched, Immersed bilinguals came from Spanish speaking countries but lived in a predominantly English environment they displayed characteristics of both the competitive and cooperative bilinguals.


It was found that the ability to plan even a single word is affected by the dynamics of cross-language interaction. This study then compares the performance of the three groups on measures of lexical production (verbal fluency and picture naming) and on a measure of inhibitory control (AX-CPT).

The hypothesis suggests that the ability to produce words in one language draws from inhibitory processes, but that this relation might only emerge in tasks that constrain lexical access.

All participants are highly proficient in English and Spanish. The mean ages of L2 acquisition for the competitive bilinguals it is 6.1, for the cooperative bilinguals it is 4.2, and for the immersed bilinguals it is 2.4.

For the verbal fluency task, participants were given 8 semantic categories (animals, body parts, clothing, colors, fruits, furniture, musical instruments, vegetables) and 30 seconds to respond to each one. The picture naming task consisted of naming black and white pictures over a range of lexical frequencies (*no supplemental material).

Results for the verbal fluency revealed high scores in both languages, although important differences emerged between the three groups:

  1.     Competitive bilinguals produced > words in Spanish than English
  2.     Cooperative bilinguals produced a similar number of words in both languages
  3.     Immersed bilinguals produced > words in English than in Spanish

This pattern remained the same even after accounting for differences in language ability and L2 age of acquisition suggesting that these groups differences likely reflect language dominance status as a function of the current dynamics of language environment.

There was no association between inhibitory control and verbal fluency performance, as the association between inhibitory control and lexical access is most evident in tasks that restrict the lexical selection process (such as in the picture naming task).

Here’s the link to the article, for those interested in it.

Beatty-Martinez Psychological Science 

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