The Influence of Previously Learned Languages on the Acquisition of a Third Language

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The influence of previously learnt languages has been an important topic of interest in the field of Third Language Acquisition. There is no consensus on which language is the most important for vocabulary learning in an L3, and what determines which language is used for transfer into the L3. Typology and order of acquisition are considered to be major factors, but it is still debated which one is most influential. This thesis tries to shed some light on this by removing the typology factor in the study that was done by using three languages that are typologically similar and of the same language family. The hypothesis was that the L2 would be more influential when learning vocabulary of an L3. This was tested in an experiment where Dutch-English bilinguals learnt Danish vocabulary. The results show that L3 learners used their L1 more than their L2, which might suggest that order of acquisition is not the dominant factor for transfer. Key words: Third Language Acquisition, L1 influence, L2 influence, lexical transfer, order of acquisition, typology
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