Language Activation in Child L2 Learners
Language non-selectivity posits that bilinguals activate both languages regardless of which is in use (De Groot, 2011). Highly proficient adult bilinguals produce cognates faster than non-cognates due to the activation of cognates’ overlapping, cross-linguistic phonological features. This effect is significantly larger for the non-dominant language, potentially due to the stronger influence of the dominant language (Costa, Caramazza, & Sebastián- Gallés, 2000).
Language co-activation and its effects are modulated by various factors including language proficiency (Van Hell & Tanner, 2012), language mode (Grosjean, 2001), and language dominance (Flege, MacKay, & Piske, 2002). However, the majority of previous studies have focused primarily on highly proficient, balanced adult bilinguals producing words in one language.
The purpose of this study is to investigate language co-activation in early child L2 learners when switching between production in their L1 and their L2. This particular paradigm was used to induce a stronger “bilingual mode.” Compared to highly proficient, balanced adult bilinguals, child L2 learners have a significantly lower dominance and proficiency in their L2. Therefore, child L2 learners could show a cognate facilitation effect for L2 production given their high dominance in L1, but should not show an effect for L1. Alternatively, given previous findings of inhibition in switch tasks (Meuter &
Alport, 1999), child L2 learners may inhibit their stronger L1 and thus show a
cognate facilitation effect for L1 but not for L2.