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Thinking for speaking and linguistic relativity among bilinguals: towards a new research agenda

Treffers-Daller, J. ORCID: (2012) Thinking for speaking and linguistic relativity among bilinguals: towards a new research agenda. Language, Interaction and Acquisition, 3 (2). pp. 288-300. ISSN 1879-7873

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1075/lia.3.2.06tre


This article evaluates how the different papers in this special issue fill a gap in our understanding of cognitive processes that are being activated when second language learners or bilinguals prepare to speak. All papers are framed in Slobin’s (1987) Thinking for Speaking theory, and aim to test whether the conceptualisation patterns that were learned in early childhood can be relearned or restructured in L2 acquisition. In many papers the focus is on identifying constraints on this restructuring process. Among these constraints, the role of typological differences between languages is investigated in great depth. The studies involve different types of learners, language combinations and tasks. As all informants were given verbal rather than non-verbal tasks, the focus is here on the effects of conceptual transfer from one language on another, and not on the effects of language on non-linguistic cognition. The paper also sketches different avenues for further research in this field and proposes that researchers working in this field might want to take up the challenge of investigating whether speakers of different languages perceive motion outside explicitly verbal contexts differently, as this will enable us to gain an understanding of linguistic relativity effects in this domain. Studying which teaching methods can help learners to restructure their conceptualisation patterns may also shed new light on the aspects of discourse organization and motion event construal that are most difficult for learners.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Language and Literacy in Education
ID Code:29889
Uncontrolled Keywords:thinking-for-speaking, second language acquisition, motion event construal, French


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