Verbal fluency and bilingualism

Carefully follow these instructions – they relate to the ethical application that has been approved.  See list of categories/letters on next page

Prior to each arrival of each participant.

Randomly choose 2 easy letter fluency, 2 easy category fluency, 2 hard letter fluency, 2 hard category fluency (from list provided below, list put together from articles/previous data).

Randomize the order of the 8 verbal fluency tasks, separately for each participant (e.g., have each task/prompt on small card, jumble/take out of hat)

Ensure you know how to work audio-recorder, and have all the below, and know how to give instructions.

Ethics, practice, risk/safety

NB:  participant must be 18 or over.  Advise age range of 18 to 50.  As discussed, preferably sample from UEL population (students and staff), tested on UEL campus.

Once participant seated and comfortable in a quiet place on UEL campus (or in  safe and well-known place – as detailed on your risk assessment),  please go over what they can expect.  Let them know that the whole session should be under 20 mins (about 11 mins or so for the verbal fluency tasks, and time to talk about the study before and after).

Explain what verbal fluency tasks will involve, going through invitation letter (uploaded), and consent form (uploaded), and if willing, language questionnaire (uploaded, all questions are optional).  Use only anonymous code on questionnaire responses

Ensure participant fully aware of anonymous code use, separate storage of signed consent forms until Dec 18th , (then destroyed),  their right to withdraw at any point using anonymous code and without giving a reason (including up to 9 am on Nov 25th,),  and confidentiality of data, and audio recordings.   Go over what will happen with the data, with participant.

If P. not willing to be audio recorded, but would still like to take part, then do not record.  Just tally /note down number of words, repetitions, intrusions/errors, while they are speaking, for each fluency prompt, always using anonymous P. code.  Enter on data table in data scoring sheet (uploaded).

Practice, reassurance, and check if want to continue

Give two practices first (vegetables, and the letter “T”).  See full instructions below/next page.  One minute only.   Use the practice to clarify the procedure, reminding that once you have given the prompt, you will not say anything until you say stop.  Reassure them that some letters and categories are included which are quite difficult to find words for – they are not expected to generate many words.   Also, make clear that people naturally do vary considerably on how many words they can give – this is quite usual.  Then check happy to continue with the study.   Then continue with each of the randomly chosen 8 fluency tasks.  Check during study that they are OK to continue – remind them they can withdraw at any point without having to give a reason.  At end, thank, and debrief (see debrief letter (uploaded) to be given to participant).  Remind them that they can withdraw the anonymous data until Nov 25th,  using their random code, by contacting you.

Instructions for each verbal fluency task:

Please try to test at least one monolingual and one bilingual, and more if you can.  All must be 18 or older. 

If participant willing to be recorded, then explain that you will give them either a category prompt (e.g., vegetables), or it could be a letter prompt  (e.g., T), and that you would like them to produce out aloud as many different words as they can, as soon as you give the “prompt” (letter or category).  They will have one full minute, and then you will say “stop”.  Explain that the words should not be proper names (e.g., Tom), and no variants of words (e.g., carrot, carrots).   Once they have understood, give the two practices.  If P. willing to be recorded, start audio recorder, give just the participant anonymous code, and then speak clearly the prompt (the letter, or the category).  Give one full minute, and then say “stop” clearly, then stop the recorder and save the file (suggest with anonymous P. code and the specific prompt).  Once the two practices are done, remind them that some fluency prompts will be harder than others, and people not expected to give many words.  If they are OK to continue, then use exactly this same procedure for the 8 randomly chosen tasks (see updated list of categories and letteres on next page).

Once finished, then thank them, and go over and give the debriefing letter (uploaded).

Data management

Signed consent forms must be stored safely in locked drawer, and kept separately to any anonymous data and questionnaire responses.

Audio files must only be saved on password protected equipment, and kept securely at all times.  If transferring audio-recording files, must be only to password-protected computer (always check only anonymous code evident on any data).  Once fully scored (see uploaded data scoring sheet,  and some brief time in Nov 20th class to estimate the DV “time to first response”), delete files from audio recorder. If using (password-protected) mobile phones to record,  or for any audio recording, do NOT upload any audio files to any internet site e.g., social media, cloud etc.  If any notes taken on paper, keep these securely, ensure only anonymous code evident, no identifying information, until anonymous data are entered on official sheet.  Then destroy confidentially.

Transferring and scoring data.

See separate uploaded sheet for dependent variables and scoring, for each participant.


Materials: Lists of fluency prompts – select 2 randomly from each list

Please instruct participants  – no proper names, and no variants of same word e.g., not carrot, and carrots)

Easy Category

animals, transport, kitchen utensils, clothes, musical instruments, fruit, furniture.

Harder Category

Insects, tools, fish, fabrics, sciences, writing utensils, precious stones,

Easy letter fluency 

F, A, S, L, M, P, K

Harder letter fluency

Z,  Y,  E, I, O, U

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