Enhanced L3…Ln Acquisition and its Implications for Language Teaching

  • Éva Berkes
  • Suzanne Flynn
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


This paper seeks to provide further evidence in support of the Cumulative Enhancement Model for Language Acquisition by analyzing the acquisition of an L3 in which the CP properties match in the L1 and the L3 but not the L2. Results of an elicited imitation task comparing the production of relative clauses by a group of Hungarians learning L2 English and another group (HungarianL1/GermanL2) learning L3 English at three levels of proficiency indicate that a more accurate description of the development of syntactic knowledge in L3 acquisition cannot be clearly traced back to either L1 or to the influence of the last learned language. Learners were tested on three types of restrictive relative clauses: headed (specified and unspecified) and free relatives, each type including four variants according to function of head NP and gap. Results seem to support an exponential development in multiple language acquisition, i.e. syntactic knowledge acquired in the course of learning more languages does not simply add up but rather has a multiplying effect on further language learning. Syntactic knowledge accumulated through language learning experience in the course of L1…Ln rearranges the UG guided language development in a new and economical way. Such a result has important consequences for teaching, primarily because it informs us about what does not have to be taught. Giving enough input on the series of such syntactic primitives by the language teacher may be enough to facilitate the construction of the new grammar for the learner, making learning thus more effective.


Relative Clause Word Order Target Language Matrix Clause Subordinate Clause 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Applied Sciences of BurgenlandPinkafeldAustria
  2. 2.Linguistics and PhilosophyMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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