Third or Additional Language Acquisition (Second Language Acquisition)


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In Kliesch et al. In order to account for the socio-affective dimension of FL learning in a classroom setting, we administered a questionnaire with 27 open-ended items, one closed-ended item and one question that required drawing a motivation curve so as to evaluate learning experiences, motivation, attitudes, overall well-being, personal goal-setting, age negotiations, the construction of aging identities, autonomy, L2 awareness, anxiety, expectations, self-confidence and learning strategies.

The questionnaire was administered at T3 and consisted of the following main dimensions:. A high score indicates a positive mood; the person feels comfortable, cheerful and satisfied. Because of inherent task differences, performance can differ across tasks see Bak et al. For this reason, we did not calculate a composite score for the subtests, but rather analyzed each subtest separately. The data were analyzed in accordance with their properties by Wilcoxon tests and Mann-Whitney U -tests. Furthermore, effect sizes were calculated for the difference between two median values suitable for the Mann-Whitney U -test and the Wilcoxon test from the standardized test statistics of tests z and the number of cases n.

At the first step, the responses were read separately multiple times. Second, the ideas expressed in the written responses were regrouped into themes. Afterwards, the responses were read again to check theme accuracy. The effect sizes, however, are large for both groups. In the association test and the C-test, there was no significant growth either, although all participants, i.

The effect sizes were relatively small for both tests. Also, with time, the groups became more homogeneous less variance between the mean and the standard deviation. As Table 1 above shows, there seemed to be a tendency for the control group monolinguals to learn faster at the beginning after two weeks , while the experimental bilingual group made faster progress after two weeks, i. Tables 2 and 3 summarize these results. While both groups made significant gains on the Stroop test, the inhibitory performance was better in monolinguals control group than bilinguals experimental group at both data collection times.

What is more, the control group monolinguals self-corrected on average In the first dimension of the questionnaire, the participants were asked about their motivation to participate in an English language course see Figure 4. In contrast to the bilinguals, the main motivation for all participants in the monolingual group was a general interest in the English language and the English course, as well as a desire to understand texts in English; other motivations were: communicating with English-speaking people, travelling, and facing a new challenge. The main motivation for the bilingual participants was to communicate with English-speaking people.

One participant reported trying to approach and greet people in English in his daily life. The English course also had a positive influence on all participants in the bilingual group. All participants in the monolingual group preferred teaching methods such as group discussions, reading and playing games; five participants also enjoyed writing dialogues.

In the bilingual group, four participants preferred activities such as group discussions, reading, watching YouTube videos and teacher-centered instruction. As Figure 5 shows, learning motivation kept increasing with time. Figure 6 illustrates the descriptive statistics for both groups before and after each English lesson. Our results demonstrate a significant improvement in a range of linguistic, cognitive and socio-affective tasks as a function of a four-week intensive English course.

Although we could not observe any gains in the receptive language tasks, all participants were able to fill in significantly more gaps in the C-test after the language course, and significantly fewer errors were made in each error domain. The language training also led to measurable improvements on executive tasks inhibition, interference but not on focus and concentration — although there was a perceived increase in focus and attention on the part of the participants.

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These findings expand on the results of previous research e. However, since the knowledge and skills that are inevitably accumulated as experience grows are not controlled for in these tests, scientific prudence indicates that the way the results of these tests are interpreted should be tempered. In line with predictions from social psychology and SLA e.

Ware et al. Although the Multidimensional Mood State Questionnaire did not reveal any significant improvement in terms of overall well-being from T1 to T12, the quantitative results displayed consistently high ratings on subjective well-being scales before and after each English class, with minimally higher ratings at the end of each course.

The responses in the open-ended questionnaire, on the other hand, clearly suggest that language learning is perceived not only as a social activity but also as cognitive stimulation and connection with society. Participants in our study expressed their motivations for learning English in terms of the use of new behaviors and practices, the development of communicative strategies and desire to continue the program.

These are discourses of positive aging see Andrew : their remarks advocate accepting aging as a fact of life and finding a sense of life satisfaction. Learning English is one way they have found to remain active and to continue to advance personally.


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More importantly, it is a major source of prestige for them in view of all that English signifies in terms of cultural capital. While they very much enjoy the academic challenge of learning, this undertaking has much more to do with their life in the world beyond the classroom.

Transfer in Second Language Acquisition

The participants often pointed to the importance of the approval and acknowledgment of their family members; they also had a tendency to compare themselves with other older adults inside and outside their language classes. Similarly, Sigelman and Rider note that older adults can maintain self-esteem by comparing themselves socially or physically with other older adults, rather than with younger adults. Oxford reasons that when third agers apply ageist stereotypes learned as early as childhood in some cultures, Levy, to themselves, their self-esteem suffers, but if they attach these stereotypes to other older adults, they feel better about themselves — a hypothesis supported by our findings.

Both the applied linguistics-related and the cognitive study of third-age additional language learning are at points where the topic is gaining traction, and we are at a juncture to take stock of what has been investigated, to what extent efforts have been fruitful, and how we should proceed. This pilot study focused on the effects of FL learning on older adults who begin the relevant language learning process in old age in a school context in the L1 community — a novel undertaking in SLA research. Our findings not only present some initial support for the hypothesis that FL learning in older adults yield cognitive, linguistic and socio-affective benefits; they also highlight the importance of learning a completely new language in the third age not just as a goal in itself but as a means of promoting social interaction and integration — an important finding considering that it is partly through the stimulation of social well-being that its cognitive effects may be observed Pot et al.

Understanding how cognition and motivation are involved in FL learning in older adults is essential for adult educators, policy-makers and designers of course materials and syllabi to develop teaching materials which cater for the needs of this learner group and to make decisions about type and impact of late additional language instruction.


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  • The findings presented in this article are preliminary and the conclusions drawn from this study must be considered against the background of the methodological constraints inherent in the design e. In continuing this line of research, it will be critical for us to include a passive control group and, possibly, another active control group engaging in another type of training that does not involve the use of language, e.

    Basak et al. Dense longitudinal studies will enable us to reach clear conclusions on the effects of third-age language learning. Finally, as Lenet et al. Cox, , while Brill-Schuetz and Morgan-Short demonstrate that only learners with high procedural memory show an advantage in implicit L2 learning conditions.

    Removing debilitating stereotypes in research design, task design and data analysis is a fundamental step towards understanding age-related changes and age parameters, and, by extension, encouraging and aiding older language learners. Note, however, that the short-span length of investigation chosen here suffers in comparison with those of at least several months, which is more typical of longitudinal design in SLA research.

    Special thanks are due to Anton Laireiter for providing invaluable assistance as far as the cognitive tests were concerned, and to David Singleton for his insightful and generous feedback. We are also greatly indebted to the third age learners for their enthusiastic participation and support. Any errors, of course, remain our own. Adesope, O. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the cognitive correlates of bilingualism. Review of Educational Research , 80 2 , — Aguado, K. In: Helmut, J. Frankfurt am Main: Lang.

    Andrew, P. The social construction of age: Adult foreign language learners. Bristol: Multilingual Matters. Antoniou, M. Foreign language training as cognitive therapy for age-related cognitive decline: A hypothesis for future research. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews , 37 10 , — Bak, T. Novelty, challenge, and practice: The impact of intensive language learning on attentional functions.

    PLoS One , 11, 1— Basak, C. Can training in a real-time strategy video game attenuate cognitive decline in older adults? Psychology and Aging , 23 4 , — Bialystok, E. Aging in two languages: Implications for public health. Ageing Research Reviews , 27, 56— Language experience changes language and cognitive ability. Babel , 21 1 , 17— Braun, V. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Brill-Schuetz, K. The role of procedural memory in adult second language acquisition. In: Bello, P. Cognitive Science Society: Quebec City. Methodologies for teaching English to adult students in Spanish vocational education programs.

    Journal of Professional, Continuing and Online Education , 2 1 , 1— Cohen, J. Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. Cox, J. Explicit instruction, bilingualism, and the older adult learner. Studies in Second Language Acquisition , 39, 29— Damoiseaux, J. Cerebral Cortex , 18 8 , — Dowens, M. Morphosyntactic processing in late second-language learners. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience , 22 8 , — Engle, R. Executive attention, working memory capacity, and a two-factor theory of cognitive control. In: Ross, B. Elsevier Academic Press.

    Gabrys-Barker, D. Third age learners of foreign languages.

    Language acquisition

    Gatterer, G. At this stage, which may last for a year or more after speech emergence, learners typically have a vocabulary of as many as 6, words. They usually acquire the ability to communicate in writing and speech using more complex sentences. This crucial stage is also when learners begin actually thinking in their second language, which helps them gain more proficiency in speaking it. It takes most learners at least two years to reach this stage, and then up to 10 years to achieve full mastery of the second language in all its complexities and nuances.

    Second language learners need ongoing opportunities to engage in discussions and express themselves in their new language, in order to maintain fluency in it. The key to learning a new language and developing proficiency in speaking and writing that language is consistency and practice.

    A student must converse with others in the new language on a regular basis in order to grow their fluency and confidence. The influence of bilingualism on third language acquisition: Focus on multilingualism. Language Teaching, 46 , 71— Towards a plurilingual approach in English language teaching: Softening the boundaries between languages. English in Europe. The acquisition of a third language. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. De Angelis, G. New trends in cross-linguistic influence and multilingualism research. Flynn, S. International Journal of Multilingualism, 1 , 3— Bilingual education in the twenty first century: A global perspective.

    Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

    Five Stages of Second Language Acquisition

    Multilingual pedagogies. Martin-Jones, A. Creese Eds. Educating emergent bilinguals: Policies, programs and practices for English language learners. New York: Teachers College Press. L3 acquisition: A focus on cognitive approaches. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 18 , — Linguistic diversity and education. Herdina, P. A dynamic model of multilingualism. Hornberger, N. Continua of biliteracy: An ecological framework for educational policy, research, practice in multilingual settings.

    House, J. Subjectivity in English as Lingua Franca discourse: The case of you know. Intercultural Pragmatics, 6 , — Hufeisen, B. The plurilingualism project: Tertiary language learning — German after English. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing.


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