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Bilingualism & Cognition - PSY00090M

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  • Department: Psychology
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Angela De Bruin
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

We are living in an increasingly international society in which bilingualism and communicating in a non-native language are becoming the norm rather than an exception. This course considers the cognitive mechanisms underlying bilingual language use. We will review how bilinguals understand and speak two languages as well as how and why bilinguals switch between their languages. We will also discuss if and why there might be a critical period for second language acquisition. Lastly, we will consider if and how bilingualism might interact with other domains, including executive functions and decision making. Throughout the module we will consider how these different topics might relate to individual differences between bilinguals.

Module learning outcomes

  • Evaluate strengths and weaknesses of the methods researchers use to study bilingual language processing and production
  • Describe issues related to measuring and defining bilingualism and evaluate how these issues might be overcome in future research
  • Critically evaluate evidence for and against a critical period in second language acquisition
  • Compare and contrast theories on bilingual comprehension and production
  • Demonstrate a deep understanding of cognitive mechanisms involved in different types of language switching and the reasons why bilinguals switch
  • Critically evaluate studies assessing bilingualism and cognitive functioning
  • Show a thorough understanding of potential interactions between a bilingual’s languages and decision making

Module content

  • Definitions of bilingualism and individual differences between bilinguals
  • Second language acquisition
  • Bilingual language comprehension
  • Bilingual language production
  • Language switching
  • Bilingualism and cognitive functioning


Task Length % of module mark
Essay :Bilingualism and Cognition
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay :Bilingualism and Cognition
N/A 100

Module feedback

The marks on all assessed work will be provided on e-vision.

Indicative reading

De Bruin, A. (2019). Not all bilinguals are the same: A call for more detailed assessments and descriptions of bilingual experiences. Behavioral Sciences, 9(3), 33.

Declerck, M., & Philipp, A. M. (2015). A review of control processes and their locus in language switching. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 22(6), 1630-1645.

Lehtonen, M., Soveri, A., Laine, A., Järvenpää, J., de Bruin, A., & Antfolk, J. (2018). Is bilingualism associated with enhanced executive functioning in adults? A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 144(4), 394-425.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.