Bilingualism: A cognitive and psycholinguistic perspective

By Prof. Bidisha Som   |   IIT Guwahati
Learners enrolled: 173
The course offers a comprehensive take on the phenomenon of Bilingualism. Bilingualism is a seemingly simple fact of today’s world, but this practice has implications beyond the realm of just communicative needs. Starting from how a society becomes and remains bilingual, the important aspects of a bilingual society, how this impacts many things like social attitude to business strategies and so on to a completely different world of the mind and brain of a bilingual: a wide range of interesting factors make it worthwhile to delve deeper. In order to bring out the various facets of this practice, the course will bring together linguistic, socio-pragmatic, psychological, applied and cognitive significance of this phenomenon. The students will learn about how linguistic and cognitive mechanisms interact in a bilingual mind and how these interactions shape the way the bilingual person processes information at various levels. Also included will be discussion on the topic of effects of bilingualism on general cognitive abilities of a person, be it children or the elderly. Thus, starting with the social factors responsible for bilingualism to the bilingual individual’s language processing and how all this impacts our life at a broader scale, all these topics will be covered in this course.

INTENDED AUDIENCE: Undergraduates, Postgraduates, PhD students, Faculty Development Programme

INDUSTRY SUPPORT: Industries working in domains related to human cognition, society and language will find this useful.
Course Status : Upcoming
Course Type : Elective
Duration : 8 weeks
Start Date : 20 Feb 2023
End Date : 14 Apr 2023
Exam Date : 29 Apr 2023 IST
Enrollment Ends : 20 Feb 2023
Category :
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit Points : 2
Level : Undergraduate/Postgraduate

Page Visits

Course layout

Week 1: Becoming and being bilingual : Socio-historical aspects: Language contact: reasons and effect; Attitude and acculturation; Markers of a bilingual society: The continuum: Who is a bilingual? fractional and wholistic view of bilingualism; Types of bilinguals; learning pathways for monolinguals Vs bilinguals; bilingual’s language mode; Bicultural bilingual.Bilingualism and multilingualism: some important points
Week 2: Bilingual acquisition : Childhood bilingualism; childhood SLA; adult SLA
Week 3: Bilingual cognition : Relativity; color cognition, perception of motion, grammatical categories, spatial language; conceptual transfer. Bilingual memory models; Episodic, semantic and working memory.
Week 4: Brain of a bilingual : Cerebral laterality; aphasia & electrophysiological data; laterality in terms of Age of Acquisition, proficiency and control mechanisms; behavioral laterality
Week 5: Bilingual speech processing : Speech perception, comprehension and production in children and adults; base language effect in categorical perception and speech production.
Week 6: Bilingual lexical and sentence processing : Bilingual mental lexicon: phonological, orthographic, and semantic representations; models of lexical access: language selective Vs non-selective hypothesis; Models of bilingual representation and processing: RHM, BIA, BIA+, BIMOLA, Multilink; comprehension: effect of frequency, Age-of-Acquisition, context, priming, cross-language lexical properties.Production: language production models: MLF model, Uniform structure principle, the 4-M model, the abstract level model; selection and control in production; factors affecting production.Sentence processing;reading and writing;
Week 7: Cognitive consequences of bilingualism : Consequences of bilingualism: metalinguistic abilities; language control; executive control and cognitive reserve; Consequences of bilingualism: metalinguistic abilities; language control;executive control and cognitive reserve;
Week 8: Applied areas : Bilingual education; language planning and policy; language teaching; advertising; current trends in bilingualism research

Books and references


1. Altarriba, J., & Heredia, R. R. (2008). An introduction to bilingualism. Psychology Press.
2. Myers-Scotton, Carol.(2006).Multiple Voices: An Introduction to bilingualism. Wiley Blackwell.
3. Wei, Li & Melissa. G Moyer. (2008). Blackwell guide to research in bilingualism and multilingualism. Wiley Blackwell.
4. Gerosjean, Francois. (2008). Studying Bilinguals. Oxford University Press..
5. Grosjean, Fracois. (2018). The Listening Bilingual. Wiley Blackwell.
6. Filipovich, Luna. (2019). Bilingualism in action: theory and practice. Cambridge University Press.
7. De Groot, A M B. (2010). Language and cognition among bilinguals and multi-linguals. Routledge.
8. Cook, Vivian & Benedetta Vassetti (ed). (2011). Language and bilingual cognition. Psychology Press.
9. Pavlenko, Aneta. (2014). The Bilingual Mind. Cambridge University Press.
10. Heredia, Roberto & Jeanette Altarriba (ed). (2013). Foundations of Bilingual Memory. Springer.
11. Hernandez, Arturo, E. (2013). The Bilingual Brain. Oxford University Press.
12. Grosjean, Francois & Ping Li. (2013). The psycholinguistics of Bilingualism. Wiley Blackwell.

Instructor bio

Prof. Bidisha Som

IIT Guwahati
Bidisha Som is a teacher-researcher in Linguistics. She received her Masters to PhD degrees from JNU, New Delhi. She is currently working as an Associate professor of Linguistics in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Guwahati. She has taught courses on bilingualism, language-cognition, and sociolinguistics as B Tech electives. Her research work is focused on language processing among bilinguals, language and culture interaction, cognitive linguistics. She has thirteen years of teaching experience at IITG.

Course certificate

The course is free to enroll and learn from. But if you want a certificate, you have to register and write the proctored exam conducted by us in person at any of the designated exam centres.
The exam is optional for a fee of Rs 1000/- (Rupees one thousand only).
Date and Time of Exams: 29 April, 2023 Morning session 9am to 12 noon; Afternoon Session 2pm to 5pm.
Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.
The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published. If there are any changes, it will be mentioned then.
Please check the form for more details on the cities where the exams will be held, the conditions you agree to when you fill the form etc.


Average assignment score = 25% of average of best 6 assignments out of the total 8 assignments given in the course.
Exam score = 75% of the proctored certification exam score out of 100

Final score = Average assignment score + Exam score

YOU WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR A CERTIFICATE ONLY IF AVERAGE ASSIGNMENT SCORE >=10/25 AND EXAM SCORE >= 30/75. If one of the 2 criteria is not met, you will not get the certificate even if the Final score >= 40/100.

Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup.It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Guwahati. It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.

Only the e-certificate will be made available. Hard copies will not be dispatched.

Once again, thanks for your interest in our online courses and certification. Happy learning.

- NPTEL team

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