Effect of Bilingualism on Multitasking: A Pilot Study Bilingual speakers rely on attentional and executive control to continuously inhibit or activate linguistic representations of competing languages, which leads to an increased efficiency known as “bilingual advantage”. Both monolingual and bilingual speakers were asked to perform multiple tasks of talking on a cell phone while simultaneously attending to simulated ... Article
Article  |   December 01, 2015
Effect of Bilingualism on Multitasking: A Pilot Study
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Li Hsieh
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
  • Financial Disclosure: Li Hsieh is an associate professor at Wayne State University.
    Financial Disclosure: Li Hsieh is an associate professor at Wayne State University.×
  • Nonfinancial Disclosure: Li Hsieh no nonfinancial interests related to the content of this article.
    Nonfinancial Disclosure: Li Hsieh no nonfinancial interests related to the content of this article.×
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Normal Language Processing / Article
Article   |   December 01, 2015
Effect of Bilingualism on Multitasking: A Pilot Study
SIG 14 Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Populations, December 2015, Vol. 22, 94-101. doi:10.1044/cds22.3.94
History: Received June 9, 2015 , Revised October 19, 2015 , Accepted October 19, 2015
SIG 14 Perspectives on Communication Disorders and Sciences in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Populations, December 2015, Vol. 22, 94-101. doi:10.1044/cds22.3.94
History: Received June 9, 2015; Revised October 19, 2015; Accepted October 19, 2015

Bilingual speakers rely on attentional and executive control to continuously inhibit or activate linguistic representations of competing languages, which leads to an increased efficiency known as “bilingual advantage”. Both monolingual and bilingual speakers were asked to perform multiple tasks of talking on a cell phone while simultaneously attending to simulated driving events. This study examined the effect of bilingualism on participants' performance during a dual-task experiment based on 20 monolingual and 13 bilingual healthy adults. The within-subject and between-subject comparisons were conducted on reaction times of a visual event detection task for (a) only driving and (b) driving while simultaneously engaged in a phone conversation. Results of this study showed that bilingual speakers performed significantly faster than monolingual speakers during the multitasking condition, but not during the driving only condition. Further, bilingual speakers consistently showed a bilingual advantage in reaction times during the multitasking condition, despite varying degrees on a bilingual dominance scale. Overall, experiences in more than one language yield bilingual advantage in better performance than monolingual speakers during a multitasking condition, but not during a single task condition. Regardless of the difference in bilingual proficiency level, such language experience reveals a positive impact on bilingual speakers for multitasking.

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