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Language experience modulates bilingual language control: The effect of proficiency, age of acquisition, and exposure on language switching

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-170
JournalActa Psychologica
Early online date11 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


The ability to selectively access two languages characterises the bilingual everyday experience. Previous studies showed the role of second language (L2) proficiency, as a proxy for dominance, on language control. However, the role of other aspects of the bilingual experience – such as age of acquisition and daily exposure – are relatively unexplored. In this study, we used a cued language switching task to examine language switching and mixing in two groups of highly proficient bilinguals with different linguistic backgrounds, to understand how the ability to control languages is shaped by linguistic experience. Our analysis shows that the ability to switch between languages is not only modulated by L2 proficiency, but also by daily L2 exposure. Daily L2 exposure also affects language mixing. Finally, L2 age of acquisition predicts naming latencies in the L2. Together, these findings show that language dominance is characterised by multiple aspects of the bilingual experience, which modulate language control.

    Research areas

  • language control, language switching, language experience, proficiency, exposure, age of acquisition

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