Methods in Bilingual Reading Comprehension Research

Volume 1 of the series The Bilingual Mind and Brain Book Series pp 33-60

Walking Bilinguals Across Language Boundaries: On-line and Off-line Techniques

  • Eva M. FernándezAffiliated withQueens College and Graduate Center, City University of New York Email author 
  • , Ricardo Augusto SouzaAffiliated withUniversidade Federal de Minas Gerais

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This chapter examines off-line and on-line methodologies used to study bilinguals. We demonstrate how methodological choices in experimental design are linked to the theoretical frameworks within which the research is cast. We illustrate how to identify appropriate methodological paradigms drawing from research on the integration of languages in bilinguals, specifically work on how bilinguals process argument structures with different restrictions in the standard grammars of their languages. We report data from Portuguese-English bilinguals and their monolingual counterparts performing three different tasks: off-line acceptability judgments using magnitude estimations, on-line self-paced reading, and sentence recall/sentence matching (i.e., providing whole sentence reading times, speech initiation times, and oral recall errors). With both on-line and off-line measures, bilinguals have different restrictions in argument structures than their monolingual counterparts, in their first language. The overall pattern suggests that these differences are rooted in grammatical representations rather than being driven by performance variables.


Acceptability/grammaticality judgments Magnitude estimation judgments Off-line On-line Self-paced reading