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Auditory Information Supports the Learning Transfer from L2 to L3 Tonal Languages

Abstract

While the acquisition of three or more languages becomes steadily more important in modern societies, the underlying cognitive and linguistic processes of multi-linguistic language acquisition are not well understood. This study investigates how a formerly acquired second language (L2) can facilitate the acquisition of a third language (L3). Thirty-two native German speakers with proficient knowledge in either a tonal L2 (Chinese) or a non-tonal L2 (English) learned vocabulary of a tonal L3 (Thai), while the information of the target L3 was either presented visually or both visually and auditorily. Additional auditory information improved later recognition of L3 vocabulary for participants with a tonal L2 (Chinese) but not for those with a non-tonal L2 (English). These results suggest that the L2 to L3 learning transfer can be improved when the similarities between both languages, such as tonal information, are accentuated in the learning process.

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Correspondence to Moritz Köster.

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All procedures were in accordance with the German national law and the ethical standards of the German Psychological Association (DGPs).

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Köster, M., Goeke, C.M., Goeke, B. et al. Auditory Information Supports the Learning Transfer from L2 to L3 Tonal Languages. Curr Psychol 39, 742–749 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-018-9792-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-018-9792-z

Keywords

  • L3 acquisition
  • Language transfer
  • Cross-linguistic influences
  • Phonological similarities
  • Tonal languages