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Aphasia and bilingualism: Using one language to relearn another
Date:9/26/2013

This news release is available in French.

In the era of globalization, bilingualism is becoming more and more frequent, and it is considered a plus. However, can this skill turn into a disadvantage, when someone acquires aphasia? More precisely, if a bilingual person suffers brain damage (i.e. stroke, head trauma, dementia) and this results in a language impairment called aphasia, then the two languages can be disrupted, thus increasing the challenge of language rehabilitation. According to Dr. Ana Ins Ansaldo, researcher at the Research Centre of the Institut universitaire de griatrie de Montral (IUGM), and a professor at the School of Speech Therapy and Audiology at Universit de Montral, research evidence suggests that bilingualism can be a leverand not an obstacleto aphasia recovery.

A recent critical literature review conducted by Ana Ins Ansaldo and Ladan Ghazi Saidi -Ph.D student- points to three interventional avenues to promote cross-linguistic effects of language therapy (the natural transfer effects that relearning one language has on the other language).

It is important for speech-language pathologists to clearly identify a patient's mastery of either language before and after aphasia onset, in order to decide which language to stimulate to achieve better results. Overall, the studies reviewed show that training the less proficient language (before or after aphasia onset)and not the dominant languageresults in bigger transfer effects on the untreated language.

Moreover, similarities between the two languages, at the levels of syntax, phonology, vocabulary, and meaning, will also facilitate language transfer. Specifically, working on "cognates," or similar words in both languages, facilitates cross-linguistic transfer of therapy effects. F
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Contact: William Raillant-Clark
w.raillant-clark@umontreal.ca
514-343-7593
University of Montreal
Source:Eurekalert

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