Vigo International Journal
of Applied Linguistics VIAL
Panos Athanasopoulos (1) and Chise Kasai (2): Effects of second language on cognition in English users
of L2 Japanese. VIAL. Number 8/2011: 13-27.
It is now established that certain cognitive processes such as categorisation
are tightly linked to the concepts encoded in language. Recent studies have shown
that bilinguals with languages that differ in their concepts may show a shift in their
cognition towards the L2 pattern primarily as a function of their L2 proficiency.
This research has so far focused predominantly on L2 users who started learning
the L2 in childhood or early puberty. The current study asks whether similar effects
can be found in adult L2 learners. English speakers of L2 Japanese were given an
object classification task involving real physical objects, and an online classification
task involving artificial novel objects. Results showed a shift towards the L2 pattern,
indicating that some degree of cognitive plasticity exists even when a second language
is acquired later in life. These results have implications for theories of L2 acquisition
and bilingualism, and contribute towards our understanding of the nature of the
relationship between language and cognition in the L2 userís mind.
Keywords: Linguistic relativity , second language acquisition, Triads matching
task, Object categorization, L2 Japanese.
(1) Bangor University, UK.
(2) Gifu University, Japan.
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