Cross-language conceptual activation and development through text passages

Karly Meillyn Schleicher, University of Texas at El Paso


The present study begins to bridge the gap between bilingual education practices and cognitive frameworks of bilingual conceptual access. A reading comprehension task was used to investigate how bilingual undergraduate students activate and develop academic information across their two languages when reading expository text. Using scientific texts, participants (N = 128) read two distinct passages pertaining to prior knowledge, as well as new, related conceptual information. At test, the participants were asked to complete true-false questions and elaborate on the reasons for their responses. A counterbalanced, mixed factorial design was used to infer how language dominance influences encoding and retrieval of expository information in bilinguals’ two languages. Results indicate that prior academic knowledge is better recalled in the dominant language and when the language of text and test match. Furthermore, Spanish dominant participants were better able to develop new conceptual features in their less dominant language. Importantly, Spanish dominant participants’ proficiency scores indicated they were less balanced across their two languages. This difference in language proficiency may benefit the development of new information, by decreasing interference from prior knowledge acquired in their dominant language.

Subject Area

Experimental psychology

Recommended Citation

Schleicher, Karly Meillyn, "Cross-language conceptual activation and development through text passages" (2016). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10250515.