Third language acquisition
As evidenced within the growing body of research in the field of third language acquisition, L3/Ln language learners are distinct from adult L2 acquirers since the former possess a larger repertoire of linguistic and metalinguistic knowledge (among other factors). Our investigation of third language acquisition and bidirectional cross-linguistic influence informs ongoing debates in the field of second language acquisition and linguistic theory more generally, including central questions regarding the role of age of acquisition in a linguistic system’s constitution, and the dynamic nature of cross-linguistic influence across the lifespan. We focus on the following questions:
- When exposed to a third language, which existing language system does a learner transfer to the third language? Is it always a) the native language, b) the second language, c) the language that is most structurally similar to the third language, or d) a combination of both systems?
- How can the investigation of L3 acquisition inform our understanding of what constitutes the initial state and beyond for language acquisition?
- What is the developmental path of acquisition of an L3 system, and how does this path differ from L2 development?
- How does the addition of a third sound system affect existing systems? Are early-acquired systems less vulnerable to L3 influence than late-acquired systems, and if so, why?
Research & Publications Heading link
Project: The roles of the L1 and L2 in L3 development
Primary Investigators: Jennifer Cabrelli, Mike Iverson (Indiana University)
Previous collaborators: David Giancaspro (University of Richmond), Becky Halloran González (University of Iowa), Jason Rothman (UiT, The Arctic University of Norway, Universidad de Nebrija)
Much recent L3 initial stages research points to non-facilitative transfer from the L1 or L2, and it is conceivable that non-facilitative transfer from the L2 creates an L3 learning task that is qualitatively and quantitatively different than the learning task that transfer from the L1 creates. With this in mind, the aim of this research is to identify potential differences in the developmental sequence between learners that have transferred their L2 versus their L1 and the variables that underlie any differences. This work has thus far examined development after non-facilitative transfer and has led to the Cumulative Input Threshold Hypothesis, which posits that the greater the amount of input a learner has been exposed to in the language transferred at the initial stages of L3 acquisition, the greater the amount of L3 input the learner will need in order to recover from non-facilitative transfer (i.e. to converge on the L3 target).
- Cabrelli, J., & Iverson, M. (in revisions). Why do L3 learners overcome non-facilitative transfer from an L2 faster than an L1? The Cumulative Input Threshold Hypothesis. International Journal of Multilingualism.
- Cabrelli, J., Iverson, M., Giancaspro, D., & Halloran González, B. (2020). The roles of L1 Spanish versus L2 Spanish in L3 Portuguese morphosyntactic development. In K. Molsing, C. Becker Lopes Perna, & A.M Tramunt Ibaños (Eds.), Linguistic approaches to Portuguese as an additional language (pp. 11-33). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
- Cabrelli Amaro, J., Amaro, J. F., & Rothman, J. (2015). The relationship between L3 transfer and structural similarity across development: The case of raising across an experiencer. In H. Peukert (Ed.), Transfer effects in multilingual language development (pp. 21-52). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
L3 effects on the L1 vs. L2
Project: L3 effects on the L1 vs. L2
Investigators: Jennifer Cabrelli, Alison Michaux
The Differential Stability Hypothesis (DSH, Cabrelli Amaro, 2017) accepts the notion of a critical period for optimal acquisition and posits that adult L2 systems, even when they appear target-like, are representationally different than L1 systems. However, unlike previous investigations of a critical period that center around ultimate attainment in the L2, the DSH defines the critical period in terms of differential stability of the grammar, predicting that a system acquired in adulthood should be more vulnerable to influence from a third language than a system acquired in childhood. Currently, we are testing the descriptive and explanatory adequacies of strong and weak versions of the hypothesis across the domains of phonology and morphosyntax. We have initiated a longitudinal study of multiple phonological and morphosyntactic phenomena that present differently in Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese to determine whether the constitution of these two types of systems is fundamentally different, or if domain general mechanisms such as inhibitory control might explain potential permeability. Longitudinal observation crucially allows for the control of individual variation, such that participants act as their own encapsulated control.
- Cabrelli, J. (in press). Attrition in multilingualism. In Cabrelli, J., Chaouch-Orozco, A., González Alonso, J., Puig-Mayenco, E., Pereira Soares, S. M. & Rothman, J. The Cambridge handbook of third language acquisition. Cambridge University Press.
- Cabrelli Amaro, J. (2017). L3 morphosyntactic effects on L1 vs. L2 systems. In A. Hahn & T. Angelovska (Eds.), L3 syntactic transfer: Models, new developments and implications (pp. 173-194). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
- Cabrelli Amaro, J. (2017). Testing the Phonological Permeability Hypothesis: Differential L3 influence on L1 and L2 phonological systems. International Journal of Bilingualism, 21(6), 698-717.
- Cabrelli Amaro, J. (2013). The Phonological Permeability Hypothesis: Measuring regressive L3 influence to test L1 and L2 phonological representations (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Florida.
- Cabrelli Amaro, J. & Rothman, J. (2010). L3 acquisition and phonological permeability: A new test case for debates on the mental representation of non-native phonological systems. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Teaching, IRAL, 48(2/3), 273-294.