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Language-dependent knowledge acquisition: investigating bilingual arithmetic learning

Research paper by CHRISTIAN G. K. HAHN, HENRIK SAALBACH, ROLAND H. GRABNER

Indexed on: 21 Dec '18Published on: 01 Jan '19Published in: Bilingualism (Cambridge, England)



Abstract

Previous studies revealed language-switching costs (LSC) in bilingual learning settings, consisting of performance decreases when problems are solved in a language different from that of instruction. Strong costs have been found for arithmetic fact knowledge. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether LSC in arithmetic also emerge in an auditory learning task and in pure fact learning. Furthermore, we tested whether LSC are influenced by the direction of language-switching. Thirty-three university students learned arithmetic facts of three different operations (i.e., multiplication, subtraction, artificial facts) over a period of four days. The training was either in German or English. On day five, participants solved problems in both languages. Results revealed LSC in response latencies for all three types of problems, independent of the direction of language-switching. These findings suggest that LSC are modality-unspecific and occur independent of the type of arithmetic fact knowledge.