16. Going beyond the initial stages in L3/Ln acquisition researchs

L3 acquisition, transfer, L3 development, phonology, syntax, lexicon

Eloi Puig-Mayenco, King’s College London
Jennifer Cabrelli, University of Illinois at Chicago

As cross-linguistic comparisons of second language (L2) acquisition studies reveal, trajectories in acquisition can vary immensely depending on the starting point of the process. Accordingly, some have argued that determining initial representations for a third language (L3) is of key importance for understanding L3 acquisition overall, not least because only at the initial stages of acquisition can one confidently isolate representational transfer from knowledge that stems from L3 learning itself (Rothman, González Alonso, & Puig-Mayenco, 2019). There are some advantages that come from placing a particular spotlight on L3 initial stages research; knowing what initial L3 grammars look like affords the best opportunity to meaningfully predict and map developmental and ultimate attainment learning trajectories. And so, while examining initial L3 interlanguage grammars is particularly useful for determining transfer source, it is also important for setting the stage for tracking and explicating patterns in L3 development over time.
One might expect there to be a critical mass of studies following on from initial stages data collection, that is, developmental studies that follow learners iteratively over time after their L3 initial representations are established. However, few studies to date place special emphasis on the cognitive processes involved in the development of an L3. Even fewer studies have combined L3 initial stages data with later developmental data or any type of longitudinal design from whatever point of L3 proficiency data was first collected (but see Cabrelli et al., 2020; Puig-Mayenco et al., 2020; Stadt et al., 2018); all of these studies focus on morphosyntactic development.
This thematic session brings together ongoing work on the development of an L3 from multiple domains of language. The first presentation by Puig-Mayenco and Cabrelli sets the stage for L3 development research by providing a state-of-the-art overview of the available literature and questions to consider as we move forward. The second presentation by Stadt offers insights from a four-year longitudinal study on the acquisition of French and German syntactic knowledge by Dutch-English bilinguals. In the third presentation, Kolb and Westergaard examine the development of German as an L3 by English-Norwegian learners. In the fourth presentation, Lloyd-Smith presents one of the few available studies that compare two domains of language (syntax and phonetics-phonology) within the same set of L3 learners to find (dis-)similarities across domains. In the fifth presentation, Wrembel, Kopečková, and Balas present the results of a one-year longitudinal study on L3 German phonology by L1-Polish-L2-English learners. In the final presentation, Suhonen presents a longitudinal study of a set of L3 Swedish learners, where he followed their developmental patterns for the mental lexicon from beginner to advanced levels of proficiency.
The whole of the contributions in this thematic session will highlight why the field is ready to move on from the initial stages research and how insights from different domains of language can be particularly helpful in shaping the overall picture of L3 developmental trajectories.

  1. L3 development in context: where are we at?, Eloi Puig-Mayenco and Jennifer Cabrelli
  2. Transfer or a Developmental Differences? The case of Grammatical Gender Acquisition in L3 German, Megan M. Brown
  3. L3 development: A longitudinal study on L3 German in Norway, Nadine Kolb and Marit Westergaard
  4. The nature of syntactic and phonological CLI beyond the initial state, Anika Lloyd-Smith 
  5. The relationship between phonological awareness, perceived foreign accent as well as perception and production of L2/L3 rhotic sounds in the first year of L3 learning, Magdalena Wrembel , Romana Kopečková, Anna Balas
  6. Longitudinal Aspects of Naturalistic L3 Lexical Acquisition, Lari-Valtteri Suhonen