Language processing in bilinguals



The present course is designed as an overview of the main topics that make up the main areas of interest of language processing in bilinguals.

The performance of bilinguals can inform basic issues in cognitive science concerning the constraints and plasticity of learning and the manner in which language experience influence cognition. Although the basic mechanisms of language processing may be similar in bilinguals and monolinguals, the subtle interplay between the bilingual’s two languages provides a window to observe the interactions between language and thought in a way that is otherwise obscured in the performance of highly skilled native language users.

Course plan





Topic 1: What is bilingualism?



Topic 2: Major issues in the study of bilingualism.



Topic 3: The bilingual memory.



Topic 4: Parallel activation of the bilingual’s two languages and language control.



Topic 5: Cognitive and neural consequences of bilingualism.



Topic 6: Bilingualism and pathology.



Topic 7: Bilingualism, emotion and related topics.


The assessment of the course will be done on the basis of the following criteria:

a) Attendance and regular participation of the student in the class sessions.

b) Oral presentation (summary of theoretical foundations, methodology, main findings and discussion) of a paper of their choice, from a selection of papers that will be offered during the course.

c) A written assignment addressing specific questions on the paper selected for presentation.

Re-evaluation for those not reaching a final grade of 5 will be done on the basis of a written assignment addressing specific questions on the content of the course.

Contingency asessment plan in case of virtual teaching due to the pandemic situation

In case of virtual teaching, the assessment will be done on the basis of a written assignment focused on a scientific paper related with the contents of the course (continuous modality). The unique modality of assessment would rely on a written assignment focused on several scientific papers related with the content of the course.

Examination-based assessment

A written assignment addressing specific questions on the content of several readings related to the topics of the course. Re-evaluation for those not reaching a final grade of 5 will be done on the basis of another written assignment.


Altarriba, A., & Heredia, R.R. (2008). An introduction to bilingualism. Principles and processes. New York: LEA.

Ardila, A., Cieslicka, A.B., Heredia, R.R., & Rosselli, M. (2018). Psychology of bilingualism: The cognitive and emotional world of bilinguals. Cham: Springer.

Costa, A. (2021). The bilingual brain. Penguin.

De Groot, A.M.B. (2010). Language and Cognition in Bilinguals and Multilinguals. Psychology Press.

Grosjean, F. & Li, P. (2013). The psycholinguistics of bilingualism. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell

De Houwer, A. (2021). Bilingual development in childhood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Heredia, R.R., & Altarriba, J. (2014). Foundations of bilingual memory. New York: Springer.

Kroll & De Groot (2005). Handbook of Bilingualism: Psycholinguistic perspectives. Oxford University Press.

Pavlenko, A. (Ed) (2009). The bilingual mental lexicon: Interdisciplinary approaches. Clevedon: Multilingual matters.

Pavlenko, A. (2011). Thinking and speaking in two languages. Clevedon: Multilingual matters.

Pavlenko, A. (2014). The bilingual mind and what it tell us about language and thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tokowicz, N. (2014). Lexical processing and second language acquisition. New York: Routledge.

Schwieter, J. W. (2019). The handbook of the neuroscience of multilingualism. Chichester: Wiley.

Heredia, R. R, Altarriba, J., Cieslicka, A. B. (2016). Methods in Bilingual Reading Comprehension Research. Cham: Springer.

Bialystok, E., Craik, F.I.M., & Luk, G. (2012). Bilingualism: Consequences for mind and brain. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 16, 240-250.

Bobb, S., Wodniecka, Z., & Kroll, J. (2013). What bilinguals tell us about cognitive control. Special Issue of Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 25, 493-664.

Costa, A., & Sebastián-Gallés, N. (2014). How does the bilingual experience sculpt the brain? Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 15, 336-345.

Green, D.W., & Abutalebi, J. (2013). Language control in bilinguals: the adaptive control hypothesis. –journal of Cognitive Psychology, 25, 515-530.

Kroll, J., Bobb, S., & Hoshino, N. (2014). Two languages in mind: Bilingualism as a tool to investigate language, cognition, and the brain. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23, 159-163.

Valian, V. (2014). Bilingualism and cognition. Bilingualism, Language and cognition, 18, 3-24.

Surrain, S., & Luk, G. C.(2019). Describing bilnguals: A systematic review of labels and descriptions used in the literature between 2005-2015. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 22, 401-415.

Leivada, E., Westergaard, M., Duñabeitia, JA, & Rothman, J. (2020). On the phantom-like appearance of bilingualism effects on neurocognition: (How) should we proceed? Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 1-14.