Reference : Do you speak numbers? The relation between language and numerical cognition through t...
Dissertations and theses : Doctoral thesis
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Theoretical & cognitive psychology
Do you speak numbers? The relation between language and numerical cognition through the prism of bilingualism and cross-linguistic investigations
Van Rinsveld, Amandine mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Education, Culture, Cognition and Society (ECCS) >]
University of Luxembourg, ​​Luxembourg
Docteur de l'université du Luxembourg en Psychologie
Schiltz, Christine mailto
Martin, Romain mailto
Brunner, Martin
Content, Alain
Salillas, Elena
[en] The overarching objective of the thesis was to investigate the link between numbers and language by examining numerical abilities in bilinguals and in cross-linguistic comparisons. I conducted my research mainly in Luxembourg where the educational context provides a highly standardized framework concerning age of acquisition and performance level achieved in the two school languages German and French. In Luxembourg, it is thus easily possible to directly benefit from very homogenous populations of highly proficient bilingual participants. Consequently this environment provides an exceptionally interesting framework to study numerical cognition and its relation to language.
Firstly, two behavioral studies investigated numerical performances (i.e., magnitude judgments and arithmetic problem solving) in bilinguals at progressive stages of their bilingual language acquisition. More specifically, we used both within-subject and between-subject cross-linguistic comparison experimental designs on respectively bilingual and monolingual participants. Secondly, a short cross-linguistic comparison study assessed number transcoding skills in English- and French-speaking children in order to highlight the specific difficulties due to the use of French verbal numbers constructed on vigesimal structures.
Thirdly, we adopted a more applied approach with outlooks towards direct educational outcomes for mathematical learning and teaching. We set up an experimental behavioral study that highlighted the importance of language context for efficient arithmetic problem solving in bilinguals’ second language. In a second study, we used a large-scale school assessment dataset to examine language effects on more complex mathematical problem solving.
Finally, we used fMRI to identify the neural correlates underlying arithmetic problem solving in bilinguals’ languages and bring additional neuro-scientific insights into the field of language and numbers.

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