A Comparative Analysis of Methods in the Research of Bilingual Semantic Memory

Tanja Gulan

Abstract


The facts that cognitive functioning of the bilingual speakers is different from that of the monolinguals, and that there is a growing number of bilinguals motivated us to write this paper. Such knowledge sets requirements on researchers to include bilingualism as an important variable in their research, even if the bilingualism is not the primary topic of their interest. However, the main topic of this paper was concerned with the methodology and was pointed toward researchers who are new to this area, as well as to those who are more experienced and wish to improve their research in the field of bilingualism. Taken that there is an increase in a number of published papers dealing with the bilingualism, especially regarding the organization of bilingual mental lexicon, we felt the need to offer a review of the most often used research paradigms and findings from this area of research.  This paper consists of three major parts. In the first part, we briefly defined main concepts in the field of bilingualism research followed by a brief discussion on the most important research questions. In the second part of this paper, we gave a review of the most important methods that are used in order to answer the aforementioned research questions. The methods were evaluated with regard to the scope they could be used to answer research questions. Moreover, this paper offered further recommendations for adequate method selection. And finally, the third part of the paper referred to the key methodological factors which a researcher needs to take into account while conceptualizing research and designing the experiment. Also, we gave some recommendations for how to control or annul the effects of those factors on the dependent variable.

Keywords


bilingualism; semantic memory; mental lexicon; bilingual research methodology

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