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Developmental Perspectives on Transfer in Third Language Acquisition

Sayehli, Susan LU (2013) In Travaux de l'Institut de Linguistique de Lund 51.
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Hur lär vi oss ett nytt språk och hur påverkas språkinlärningen av de språk vi kan sedan tidigare? Syftet med denna avhandling är att undersöka hur utvecklingsstadier i inlärningen av ordformer och ordföljd i ett språk påverkas av tidigare inlärda språk (s.k. transfer). Avhandlingen undersöker dels transfer av modersmålet (L1) och dels transfer av andra tidigare förvärvade språk (L2) när vi lär oss ytterligare ett språk (L3). Avhandlingen syftar till att sammanföra två forskningslinjer vars huvudsakliga forskningsfokus; transfer och utvecklingsstadier ofta har definierats som ömsesidigt uteslutande och som studerats inom separata forskningstraditioner. I studien administrerades fem olika... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Hur lär vi oss ett nytt språk och hur påverkas språkinlärningen av de språk vi kan sedan tidigare? Syftet med denna avhandling är att undersöka hur utvecklingsstadier i inlärningen av ordformer och ordföljd i ett språk påverkas av tidigare inlärda språk (s.k. transfer). Avhandlingen undersöker dels transfer av modersmålet (L1) och dels transfer av andra tidigare förvärvade språk (L2) när vi lär oss ytterligare ett språk (L3). Avhandlingen syftar till att sammanföra två forskningslinjer vars huvudsakliga forskningsfokus; transfer och utvecklingsstadier ofta har definierats som ömsesidigt uteslutande och som studerats inom separata forskningstraditioner. I studien administrerades fem olika uppgifter (eliciterad imitation, kommunikationsuppgift, bild-baserat berättande, intervju och enkät) till elever som hade svenska som modersmål, engelska som andraspråk och som lärde sig tyska som sitt tredje språk. Resultaten tyder på att eleverna följer allmänna utvecklingsstadier i inlärningen av både ordföljd och ordformer. Dessa stadier verkar inte påverkas även om det finns samma ordföljd eller ordformer i L1 eller L2 som i L3. Även om inläraren är medveten om likheter mellan språken verkar han eller hon inte kunna tillgodogöra sig dessa förrän han eller hon är utvecklingsmässigt redo. Slutsatsen är att utvecklingsstadier begränsar transfer från L1 eller L2 till L3. Först när inläraren är utvecklingsmässigt redo överförs strukturer från L1 eller L2 till L3. (Less)
Abstract
The aim of this thesis is to examine how learner-general developmental stages in syntax and morphology interact with a language-specific factor, the influence of—or transfer from— the language learner’s first (L1) or previously learned second (L2) language on the acquisition of a third language (L3). It thereby aims to bring together two lines of research whose main concepts—transfer and developmental stages—have often been defined as mutually exclusive and generally studied in separate lines of research. The results obtained are discussed in the light of several transfer hypotheses for L3 acquisition that focus on the initial state of language acquisition (e.g., Bardel & Falk, 2007; Flynn, Foley, & Vinnitskaya, 2004; Rothman,... (More)
The aim of this thesis is to examine how learner-general developmental stages in syntax and morphology interact with a language-specific factor, the influence of—or transfer from— the language learner’s first (L1) or previously learned second (L2) language on the acquisition of a third language (L3). It thereby aims to bring together two lines of research whose main concepts—transfer and developmental stages—have often been defined as mutually exclusive and generally studied in separate lines of research. The results obtained are discussed in the light of several transfer hypotheses for L3 acquisition that focus on the initial state of language acquisition (e.g., Bardel & Falk, 2007; Flynn, Foley, & Vinnitskaya, 2004; Rothman, 2011). These hypotheses are divided into Initial L1 Transfer Hypotheses and Initial L2 Transfer Hypotheses depending on the expected source language of transfer in the acquisition of a certain structure. The results are also discussed in the light of a further transfer hypothesis that, by contrast, takes a developmental perspective: the Developmentally Moderated Transfer Hypothesis (DMTH; Håkansson, Pienemann, & Sayehli, 2002). The DMTH does not expect developmental trajectories to be modified by language transfer. Instead, a learner’s present state of development is assumed to constrain the transferability of structures from previously learned languages. In addition, a further factor which has been suggested to affect transfer—the learner’s perception of the distance between two languages (psychotypology)—is explored. Five different tasks (elicited imitation, communication task, picture-based storytelling, interview and questionnaire) were carried out with L1 Swedish L2 English speakers who were learning L3 German in a Swedish school context (n = 61). The participants’ production of morphological and syntactic structures representing developmental stages of German L2/L3 acquisition was tested quasi-longitudinally. The results suggest that learners follow general developmental trajectories for both syntax and morphology. These trajectories did not seem to be susceptible to modification by structural similarity between the participants’ L1 or L2 and their target L3. Further, no effects of the learners’ psychotypological estimates of the distance between the native and the target language were found. Hence, it is concluded that developmental trajectories constrain L1 or L2 transfer effects. Only when a learner is developmentally ready may structures from L1 or L2 transfer to L3. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • Professor Singleton, David, Trinity College, Dublin, Irland
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Third language acquisition, second language acquisition, transfer, developmental stages, elicited imitation, syntax, morphology, psychotypology, cross-linguistic influence
in
Travaux de l'Institut de Linguistique de Lund
volume
51
pages
210 pages
defense location
Hörsalen, Språk- och litteraturcentrum, Helgonabacken 12, Lund
defense date
2013-02-02 10:15
ISSN
0347-2558
ISBN
978-91-7473-442-3
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
d0e6b036-c50f-41fc-a5e1-d815ec99d61e (old id 3350209)
date added to LUP
2013-01-07 16:15:10
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:00
@misc{d0e6b036-c50f-41fc-a5e1-d815ec99d61e,
  abstract     = {The aim of this thesis is to examine how learner-general developmental stages in syntax and morphology interact with a language-specific factor, the influence of—or transfer from— the language learner’s first (L1) or previously learned second (L2) language on the acquisition of a third language (L3). It thereby aims to bring together two lines of research whose main concepts—transfer and developmental stages—have often been defined as mutually exclusive and generally studied in separate lines of research. The results obtained are discussed in the light of several transfer hypotheses for L3 acquisition that focus on the initial state of language acquisition (e.g., Bardel & Falk, 2007; Flynn, Foley, & Vinnitskaya, 2004; Rothman, 2011). These hypotheses are divided into Initial L1 Transfer Hypotheses and Initial L2 Transfer Hypotheses depending on the expected source language of transfer in the acquisition of a certain structure. The results are also discussed in the light of a further transfer hypothesis that, by contrast, takes a developmental perspective: the Developmentally Moderated Transfer Hypothesis (DMTH; Håkansson, Pienemann, & Sayehli, 2002). The DMTH does not expect developmental trajectories to be modified by language transfer. Instead, a learner’s present state of development is assumed to constrain the transferability of structures from previously learned languages. In addition, a further factor which has been suggested to affect transfer—the learner’s perception of the distance between two languages (psychotypology)—is explored. Five different tasks (elicited imitation, communication task, picture-based storytelling, interview and questionnaire) were carried out with L1 Swedish L2 English speakers who were learning L3 German in a Swedish school context (n = 61). The participants’ production of morphological and syntactic structures representing developmental stages of German L2/L3 acquisition was tested quasi-longitudinally. The results suggest that learners follow general developmental trajectories for both syntax and morphology. These trajectories did not seem to be susceptible to modification by structural similarity between the participants’ L1 or L2 and their target L3. Further, no effects of the learners’ psychotypological estimates of the distance between the native and the target language were found. Hence, it is concluded that developmental trajectories constrain L1 or L2 transfer effects. Only when a learner is developmentally ready may structures from L1 or L2 transfer to L3.},
  author       = {Sayehli, Susan},
  isbn         = {978-91-7473-442-3},
  issn         = {0347-2558},
  keyword      = {Third language acquisition,second language acquisition,transfer,developmental stages,elicited imitation,syntax,morphology,psychotypology,cross-linguistic influence},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {210},
  series       = {Travaux de l'Institut de Linguistique de Lund},
  title        = {Developmental Perspectives on Transfer in Third Language Acquisition},
  volume       = {51},
  year         = {2013},
}