Effects of language priming on timed scholastic tests administered to Spanish -English bilinguals

Eugenia C Gonzalez, University of Texas at El Paso


Previous research has demonstrated performance decrements following a switch in cognitive tasks. Similarly, switch costs are reported for bilinguals switching the language of task performance. The present study examined the impact of language switching among bilingual students who completed a task simulating the Standardized Academic Test (SAT). Participants were 227 Spanish-English bilingual university students (mean age = 19.0). Sixty-three percent of the participants were female and 82.7% were native Spanish speakers. An additional 13.8% reported their first language learned was Spanish and English together. Participants were randomly assigned to either the English or the Spanish 15 min priming condition prior to taking a timed scholastic test in English. Bilingual students who were primed in Spanish did not display decrements in test performance compared to bilingual students who were primed in English. The latter findings suggest that previously documented performance decrements following language switching on reaction time tasks may not extend to standardized tests.^

Subject Area

Education, Tests and Measurements|Language, Linguistics|Psychology, Cognitive|Hispanic American Studies

Recommended Citation

Gonzalez, Eugenia C, "Effects of language priming on timed scholastic tests administered to Spanish -English bilinguals" (2008). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3310686.