Working Memory in Spanish–English and Chinese–English Bilinguals
Psychology and Behavioral Sciences
Volume 5, Issue 4, August 2016, Pages: 104-112
Received: Jul. 1, 2016; Published: Jul. 7, 2016
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Suet Mui Ma, Department of Psychology, Brigham Young University–Hawaii, Laie, Hawaii, United States
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Many researchers demonstrated the causal effect of bilingualism for working memory ability; bilinguals have higher executive functions in maintaining higher working memory ability. The present research examined the effect of different language types college bilinguals—Chinese–English (two dispersed languages) and Spanish–English (two similar languages) bilinguals for their working memory abilities. Chinese–English and Spanish–English bilinguals have been compared in many studies. Spanish–English bilinguals are superior learning English with similar consonant, vowel, alphabetic orthographic system and phonetic structure. Therefore, they are outperformed in many language-related tasks because they use less switching and transferring cost in both languages. On the other hand, learning English for Chinese-English bilinguals is much challenging because of the greater language structure differences. They need to visually practice in Chinese logograph and English alphabetic orthographic system to achieve high levels of competencies in both languages. Hence, it implies Chinese–English bilinguals acquire a higher working memory ability to deal with languages and daily tasks than those Spanish–English bilinguals who exercise working memory less in languages. To evaluate how language can shape on human’s working memory ability without language proficiency issue, a visual working memory (Paper Folding Test) was presented. By comparing the visual working memory test scores, Chinese–English bilinguals scored statistically higher than Spanish–English bilinguals, while controlling for gender and self-reported English level. Further research should investigate the relationship between bilingualism and working memory, and continuously assess the definitions on very shared languages and very dispersed languages.
Bilingualism, Working Memory, Paper Folding Test, Visualization, Chinese–English, Spanish–English
To cite this article
Suet Mui Ma, Working Memory in Spanish–English and Chinese–English Bilinguals, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences. Vol. 5, No. 4, 2016, pp. 104-112. doi: 10.11648/j.pbs.20160504.15
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