Language switching

Have you ever wondered how bilingual people can switch between languages so easily?

According to new research, it seems they have separate “sound systems”. The study, at the University of Arizona, looked at 32 Spanish-English bilinguals. It tested them on some ‘rare’ words in Spanish and English, finding that if participants heard the words in different ways, depending on whether they were told the words were English or Spanish.

“This raises the possibility that bilinguals can perceive speech like a native speaker in both languages,” said Gonzales, whose own son is growing up learning English and Chinese simultaneously.

“The predominant view of late has been that bilinguals will never be able to perceive a second language beyond what a late learner is capable of, or someone who learns a second language late in life. So even if you learn two languages simultaneously from birth, you’re always going to perceive one of them like a late learner,” Gonzales said. “Our findings cast doubt on that prominent view in the bilingual literature.” (Source: Science Daily)

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