Reading Rules

Multilinguals unite!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Head, shoulders, knees, and NOSE, knees and….NOSE??  Huh? When reading unexpected words, we respond differently based on how many languages we speak. Why is that? 

Megan Zirnstein and her team at the University of California, Riverside, dug deeper. Around thirty bilingual students participated. They took fluency tests in their native Chinese and in their second language, English. 

Then, the students read sentences in English that did or did not make sense. For instance: “After their meal, they forgot to leave a TEN for the waitress.” The participants answered true or false questions about what they had read.

Results? The more fluent students were in Chinese, the LESS unexpected words tripped them up. Students with higher Chinese fluency did better at filtering out nonsense words in the English sentences. 

So, English speakers! Learning a second language? Remember to keep up your English skills!

Guess I should add English to my language-learning app!