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Paying Attention to Attention Allocation in Second-Language Learning: Some Insights into the Nature of Linguistic Thresholds

Anne Hawson
Bilingual Review / La Revista Bilingüe
Vol. 22, No. 1 (January-April 1997), pp. 31-48
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25745368
Page Count: 18
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Paying Attention to Attention Allocation in Second-Language Learning: Some Insights into the Nature of Linguistic Thresholds
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Abstract

The threshold hypotheses proposed by Cummins (1976) and Díaz (1985) as explanations of data on the cognitive consequences of bilingualism are examined in depth and compared to one another. A neuroscientifically updated information processing perspective on the interaction of second-language comprehension and visual processing ability is developed and contrasted with the two threshold hypotheses. The interaction of attention in the learning process is highlighted. It is discovered that Díaz's hypothesis is much more in keeping with the information processing perspective than Cummins's, and it is suggested that what may be being measured under the auspices of "cognitive" ability for students immersed in learning a second language is visual processing ability. The nature of linguistic thresholds is also probed. It is concluded that the position of the threshold is determined by how the threshold is defined, as well as by sociological and group- or individual-specific characteristics.

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