Bilinguals and Their Perceptions of Both Languages in Their Brains

Julia Falla-Wood


This descriptive research examines the perception of bilingual students on the status of the mother tongue (L1) and the second language (L2) in their brains. The question of the influence or non-influence of L1 in using L2 has been studied under different theoretical frameworks. The issue of the representation of the languages in the brain has also been considered from a neurological perspective. However, no study has been undertaken on how bilinguals themselves perceive both languages in their minds. Do students see L1 and L2 as being together in one system, separate and independent of each other, or independent but sharing an intersection? The sample available to the researcher was 54 high school bilingual students. The research instruments are a questionnaire and a semi-structured face-to-face interview. The results of this study show that the highest percentage of students believe that both languages are independent of each other but share an intersection. All students have compared both languages, and have established differences and similarities between L1 and L2 through mental translations.

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