Your browser is unsupported

We recommend using the latest version of IE11, Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

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:

  1. 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?
  2. How can the investigation of L3 acquisition inform our understanding of what constitutes the initial state and beyond for language acquisition?
  3. What is the developmental path of acquisition of an L3 system, and how does this path differ from L2 development?
  4. 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