Do bilinguals have two personalities: a special case of cultural frame switching

Interesting article (http://www.utpsyc.org/Nairan/research/bilingual.pdf)

One of the findings, I find particularly interesting. That is the finding that when speaking English, bilinguals were more extroverted than when communicating in Spanish. That, in itself, isn’t as interesting. What is really interesting was that they seem to stay at around the same rank (in extroversion) in both languages. Meaning, if they are around mid-level for extroversion in Spanish, they will also be about mid-level in English.

This is interesting for me given my (and most language teachers’) observations that fluent English language learners seem to be even more outgoing in English than in their native language. This is particularly true with students in Korea (just my observation, your experiences may differ).

I’ve often given the example of the woman I knew who was quick to swear like a sailor in English, while living in the States, but who, when in Korea, had a difficult time with even civil arguments. Her ability to confront and engage was nearly eliminated in the change of culture/language (which had the most effect is a good debate).

One of the findings of this paper is that she may have about the same rank of extroversion in both contexts, though the level of extroversion displayed differs.

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