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Effect of linguistic experience on metacognition in language tasks and transfer to non-linguistic behaviour

Project description

The effect of bilingualism on metacognition

Metacognition is an individual’s ongoing awareness of learning and task performance. Basque-Spanish bilinguals have better error-monitoring skills in speech processing tasks than monolinguals, making them more metacognitively efficient. The ERC-funded TypoMetaLing project will further this finding by comparing bilingual populations whose languages are typologically similar and diverse. Similarly, the effect of phonological diversity will be assessed. In both cases, more diversity is expected to increase metacognitive efficiency as it is more challenging. The study will also investigate the transferability of improved bilingual metacognition from phonological to syntactic tasks, even when there are typologically different phonologies but a similar syntax. Finally, it will explore whether improved metacognitive efficiency in language tasks is transferred to behaviour unrelated to linguistics.


This project explores metacognitive monitoring: the ability of individuals to track decisions, cognitive states, and behavior in uncertain situations. In earlier studies, I showed that Basque-Spanish bilinguals outperform monolinguals in metacognitive efficiency in tasks that engage cognitive processes activated when we hear natural speech. I suggested that bilinguals estimate the likelihood of making an error in language tasks better than monolinguals, i.e. they have enhanced error-monitoring skills in language tasks. However, bilinguals do not represent a homogeneous population. They differ in age of acquisition, relative proficiency in their languages, switching behavior, and also in typological distance between languages in their inventory. Basque and Spanish are typologically different languages. I hypothesize the variety of typologically different structures presents additional cognitive challenges and increases speech processing load, enhancing metacognition. I will test that the modulatory effect of bilingualism should be more modest in those bilingual populations where languages are typologically closer and the variety of language structures to be processed is narrower. I predict that exposure to more diverse phonological cues will enhance monitoring phonological tasks of any type, irrespective of phonological properties in bilinguals' native languages. I will also explore whether this metacognitive enhancement will be transferred from phonological to syntactic tasks, even if bilinguals' languages have typologically different phonology but similar syntax. Finally, I will explore if metacognitive enhancement in language tasks is transferred to non-linguistic behavior. In contemporary society, where bilingualism is a norm rather than exception, it is important to be aware to what extent metacognitive enhancement due to individual linguistic experience is transferred to non-language behavior and influences decision making both at individual and group levels.


Net EU contribution
€ 1 499 058,00
Paco das escolas
3004-531 Coimbra

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Continente Centro (PT) Região de Coimbra
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00