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May 04, 2018 Friday 10:29:40 AM IST

New Light on How Bilinguals Process Language

Teacher Insights

California: A study led by a psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist Megan Zirnstein at the University of California, Riverside, shows that bilinguals tend to “regulate or suppress their native language when reading in a second language”. 

It is widely assumed that reading or speaking in a second language — one learned later in life — is difficult. However, the study shows that bilinguals, such as international students who are proficient in their second language, not only surpass difficulties imposed by non-native language environments, but also frame reading strategies in their second language more or less like their native monolingual peers. 

The study also shows the need to recognise the “variability and diversity inherent in bilingual communities”, an approach that could significantly change notions of what it means to use language.