Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Role of Psychotypology in Third Language Acquistion

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Role of Psychotypology in Third Language Acquistion

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Going beyond second language acquisition (SLA) to the third language acquisition (TLA) is very common for many people all over the world (Cenoz, 2008). According to Cenoz (2003), TLA refers to "the acquisition of a non-native language by learners who have previously acquired or are acquiring two other languages. The acquisition of the first two languages can be simultaneous (as in early bilingualism) or consecutive" (p.71).

TLA is a relatively new area of research compared to what has been done in SLA and first language acquisition (FLA) (Cenoz and Jessner, 2000)."One of the first true L3 acquisition studies is the one by Stedje and Biedermann (1975) and Stedje (1977), in which the acquisition of German as an L2 is compared to the acquisition of German as an L3 " (Falk, 2010, p. 12).

According to the scholars who actively work on this new area of research (Cenoz & Jessner, 2000; Cenoz, 2000), TLA is qualitatively different from SLA and FLA, since the L3 learner has already acquired (at least) one L2 (up to some level) in addition to the LI and this knowledge plays a role in the acquisition of other foreign languages (Cenoz & Jessner, 2000). Furthermore, it is believed that TLA presents more diversity and complexity than SLA resulting in situations that are unique in language acquisition.

During the last decades, there has been an increased interest in this relatively under-explored field. Cenoz (2001) believes that the learners who are learning a foreign language are not always monolinguals, especially those who are members of linguistic minorities in their countries. Iran sets a real example of those countries in which many Enghsh learners are members of linguistic minorities like Arab, Turk, and Kurd. In Iran, a multicultural and multilingual society (Khadivi & Kalantari, 2010; Kalantari, 2012), TLA has still been subsumed into research on SLA except for a few studies such as Keshavarz and Astaneh (2004); Modirkhamene (2008); Farhadian et al. (2010); Kassaian and Esmae'li (2011); Saeidi and Mazoochi (2013) and Khany and Bazyar (2014) to name a few.

While the studies explored the issue of TLA in Iran have investigated a group of variables in relation to L3 development (e.g., autonomy, proficiency, and motivation, among others) and made valuable contribution highlighting the difference between SLA and TLA, still one possibly significant relation that has been overlooked is that between the psychotypology of first and second languages and L3 development. With regard to TLA specifically, psycho typology is a variable that can potentially determine the source of cross-linguistic influence in multilingual. According to Ringbom, (2001) and Kellerman (2001), psychotypology plays a crucial role in TLA (as it may affect the L3 learner's successful acquisition of a third language). Therefore, an argument can be made that further research still needs to be conducted in order to better understand whether there is a relationship between this influential factor and TLA. In other words, the main question that this paper addresses is whether the learning of an L3 is enhanced through LI and L2 psychotypology.

2. Literature Review

According to Kellerman (1978, as cited in Elfis, 2008, P. 977), distance could be considered as either a linguistic phenomenon that is referred as linguistic distance or as an individual perception that is referred as psychotypology. 'Linguistic distance' and 'psychotypology' are two factors that determine the transfer source in TLA and appear to be influential factors in the choice of source language concerning cross-linguistic influence (for instance whether a language learner draws on the LI or L2 in the production of L3) (Cenoz, 2001).

Generally speaking, transfer is most likely to occur between languages that are closely related to one another than between languages that are distantly related, which is called language distance. On the other hand, 'psychotypology' refers to the individual language learner's perception of linguistic distance between his or her languages. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.