Effects of consolidation in foreign language attrition

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There is preliminary evidence suggesting that learning of a new foreign language (L3) leads to interference in a previously learned foreign language (L2), as revealed by higher naming latencies for L2 words. The present study explored whether offline, overnight consolidation makes a difference in the extent to which the newly learned words in a new foreign language interfere with their translation equivalents in already known foreign languages. Participants, who had no knowledge of Spanish, first underwent an English vocabulary test, which resulted in a list of well-known English words. Half of the words on that list were learned in Spanish. In a final test, participants had to name all the English words from the list again. Importantly, one group of participants learned new words in Spanish and had the final English test on the same day. The other group learned new words in Spanish in one day and had their knowledge of English words tested 24 hours afterwards, which gave time to the newly learned words to be consolidated overnight. In regard to the interference effects, it was found that learning of an L3 led to interference in an L2, which was seen in both accuracy and naming latencies, meaning that learning of an L3 may actually result in forgetting of an L2. In regard to consolidation, the results tentatively suggest that it leads to a stronger interference effect in accuracy, but not in naming latencies.
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