Knjižnica Filozofskog fakulteta
Sveučilišta u Zagrebu
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Institutional Repository

Crosslinguistic influence in English vocabulary acquisition – the role of language recency and proficiency


Downloads per month over past year

Jajić Novogradec, Marina. (2017). Crosslinguistic influence in English vocabulary acquisition – the role of language recency and proficiency. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij glotodidaktike) [mentor Medved Krajnović, Marta].

PDF (Croatian)
Download (3MB) | Preview


The thesis deals with the study of crosslinguistic influence in English vocabulary acquisition. Despite a long interest for them, studies of crosslinguistic influence in foreign languages still represent underexplored phenomenon in the foreign language teaching. The focus is on two psycholinguistic factors – recency and language proficiency, although other factors, such as psychotypology, exposure to languages outside the classroom, motivation, metalinguistic awareness and language talent are discussed. Studies in terms of language proficiency have shown that transfer happens regardless of students' stage of learning and whether the student knows or does not know his/her non-native language well. Some researchers (Shanon, 1991; Williams & Hammarberg, 1998; Ecke, 2001) also assume that there will be more transfer from the language that has actively been used by the learners, but even from the language the learner knows, but does not use it (Schmidt & Frota, 1986 as cited in De Angelis, 2007) . The aim of the study is to explore the relationship between recency and language proficiency as factors that may affect the appearance of positive and negative crosslinguistic influences in multilingual learners' English vocabulary acquisition. The following research questions are put forward, and accordingly, our assumptions have been made : Research question 1: Will the knowledge of German as the last learned language be linked with the appearance of crosslinguistic influences in the English language? H1: There will be more negative crosslinguistic influence from German, that is, the knowledge of German will be closely connected with negative crosslinguistic influence. H2: There will be less positive crosslinguistic influence from German, or the knowledge of German will not show a significant positive influence. Research question 2: Will the knowledge of Italian be linked with the appearance of crosslinguistic influences in English language? H3: There will be less negative crosslinguistic influence from Italian, that is, the knowledge of Italian will not be closely connected with the appearance of negative crosslinguistic influence. H4: There will be more positive crosslinguistic influence from Italian, or the knowledge of Italian will be connected with positive crosslinguistic influence. Research question 3: Will the knowledge of Croatian as mother tongue be linked with the appearance of crosslinguistic influence in the English language? H5: The knowledge of Croatian as the mother tongue will not show a significant relationship with the appearance of both positive and negative crosslinguistic influences in English language. H6: If there were any influences, they would result in negative influence from Croatian. Participants are multilingual learners who are at different age onset of learning foreign languages. They are secondary school students, whose mother tongue is Croatian (L1), the first or second foreign language (L2/L3) English and Italian, and the third foreign language German (L4). Crosslinguistic influences in the study are examined by word translation tasks, from Croatian into English, including true, partial and deceptive cognates in English, German, and lesser number in the Italian language. In order to determine the direction of transfer, that is, which language is considered to be the main source of transfer, and whether it will be manifested postively or negatively, a retrospection task is used. In this task, students are asked, shortly after word translation tasks, to decide which language helped them or not in language production. On the basis of the students' subjective estimation, used in the retrospective task, as well as objective estimation, which included the researcher's estimation, the estimation of two independent evaluators and controlled variables (psychotypology, exposure to languages, language proficiency, motivation), the manifestation of positive and negative transfer from the other languages into the English language is shown. Since one of the key factors used in the study is recency, the type of transfer used for the main observation is decided to be lateral transfer, from L4 to L2/L3. The results have shown that the recency of L4 German is not a determinant factor in the appearance of crosslinguistic influences, although more influences from L4 are manifested positively. Therefore, the first hypothesis (H1), that there will be more negative influences from L4 German is not confirmed, as well as the second hypothesis (H2), because L4 German has shown some positive influences, especially in correlation with motivation and the use of the language in free time. There is also an interesting finding, that the studying for German classes or formal exposure to the language outside the classroom has correlated with recency, and it resulted in the appearance of negative influences from German in English language production. The Italian language has played a dominant role, although the influences from Italian are both positive and negative. The third hypothesis (H3) for the Italian language has been partly confirmed, since both positive and negative influences have been found, while the fourth hypothesis (H4) is fully confirmed, as there are more positive influences. The Croatian language, as the learners' first language, has been less dominant, thus the fifth hypothesis (H5) is mostly confirmed. The sixth hypothesis (H6) has been partly confirmed, since negative influences from Croatian can be found, especially in correlation with its everyday usage. High school grades and formal exposure to the language outside the classroom have been the result of positive influence of Croatian. Language proficiency has shown different dynamics in vocabulary acquisition. It means that, regardless of the proficiency in any of the learners' languages, multilingual learners will search for lexical mental links and use their knowledge from the language which they find most available at a particular moment. It is important to point out that there are certain limitations of the study and the results obtained are specific exclusively for the presented context. Nevertheless, the complexity of crosslinguistic influence in multilingual contexts is confirmed, as well as some directions for future studies are opened up. Thus, the most important glottodidactic implication of this study is that both teachers and learners of foreign languages should become aware of crosslinguistic connections in foreign language classroom, particularly in the area of vocabulary. Moreover, teachers should, whenever it is possible, develop learners' mental lexical connections among languages and point to the presence of cognates, by using appropriate teaching techniques in the classroom. The study also implies better national and school curriculum creation, having in mind the achievement of communicative competence in a foreign language through various language modes experienced by the learner.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: crosslinguistic influence; language proficiency; true, partial and deceptive cognates; recency; multilingual learners
Subjects: English language and literature
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Supervisor: Medved Krajnović, Marta
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij glotodidaktike
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2017 09:21
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2017 09:21

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item