New publication by Sofía Castro, Zofia Wodniecka and Kalinka Timmer!
A new publication by Sofía Castro, Zofia Wodniecka and Kalinka Timmer is now available: Am I truly monolingual? Exploring foreign language experiences in monolinguals Click here for more information!
Monolingualism has typically been understood as a homogeneous phenomenon. The linguistic experiences of monolinguals are usually overlooked when analysing the impact of foreign language experiences on language processing and cognitive functioning. In this study, we analyse the linguistic experiences of 962 English-speaking individuals from the United Kingdom (UK) who identified as monolinguals. Through an online survey, we found that more than 80% of these monolinguals had learned at least one foreign language, dialect, or type of jargon. More than half of this 80% of monolinguals also used languages they had learned at some point in their lives. Moreover, nearly 40% of all the studied monolinguals confirmed that they had been passively exposed to foreign languages or dialects in their environment; approximately a fourth of these monolinguals who declared exposure to at least one foreign language (or dialect) confirmed that they also used these languages. Furthermore, activities that involved passive use of languages (i.e., activities that require reading or listening but do not require speaking or writing; e.g., watching TV) were occasionally carried out in foreign languages: around 26% of these monolinguals confirmed the passive use of more than one language. Lastly, around 58% of monolinguals who had visited one or more non-English-speaking countries declared the active use of foreign languages during their stay(s). These results suggest that the linguistic experiences of monolinguals from the UK often include exposure to and use of foreign languages. Moreover, these results show the need to consider the specificity of the monolingual language experience when analysing the impact of foreign languages on cognitive functioning, as differences in the language experiences of bilinguals also have divergent impacts on cognition. Lastly, monolingual experiences are different from bilingual experiences; therefore, existing questionnaires that evaluate language experiences should be adapted to capture the particular linguistic experiences of monolinguals.