A Bilingual Advantage? A Comparison of Switch Costs between Task Switching and Language Switching in High and Low Proficient Dutch-English Bilinguals.

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The study conducted in this thesis aimed to make a more reliable comparison between the performance of low and high proficient bilinguals on a language switching task and task switching task. This study investigated if proficiency of the participants influenced the size of the switch costs per task and if their participants will show similar switch costs on both tasks indicating that these tasks rely on the same mechanisms. Lastly, this study investigated whether language influenced the size of the switch costs in such a way that high proficient bilinguals will show a reduction in the size of the switch costs compared to low proficient bilinguals during language switching. Participants consisted of 26 native speakers of Dutch-English bilinguals, divided in a high and low proficient group. All participants were between the age of 18 and 35. Participants were asked to decide whether a digit was 5 during the task switching tasks, and whether the word was Dutch or English during the language switching task. Analyses were conducted by means ANOVAs. These showed switch costs, however neither proficiency nor tasks influenced the size of the switch costs of the participants. Participants responded faster during task switching than during language switching, and the low proficient bilinguals responded faster than high proficient bilinguals. Language had no effect on the outcomes of the study. The lack of significant interactions is explained by the similarities between both tasks, and by the possible high proficiency level of the low proficient bilingual group. Replicating this study with two more distinct groups of bilinguals would possibly lead to different results. Keywords: bilingualism, task switching, cueing, language switching, proficiency, production, comprehension.
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