Exploring the Effect of Language of Instruction on Cross-Linguistic Influence In Third Language Acquisition




Richards, Duncan

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Foreign language learning is influenced by previously acquired languages. When people learn a second language, they only have their native language to draw on to help or hurt their language learning. But, when people know two languages and try to learn a third, which language(s) influence their acquisition is unclear. This study tested whether language of instruction and/or working memory were factors in the determination of the source of cross-linguistic influence. English-Spanish bilingual participants were taught a short PowerPoint lesson of Chinese with half instructed in English and half in Spanish. It was found that there was little difference in the two group’s learning outcomes, but there may be a difference in the manner of learning difficult structures where negative transfer would be expected with learners needing to pay more attention to those structures. Overall, this study methodologically expands cross-linguistic influence research and introduces the variable of language acquisition.