The influence of age and L2 on third language acquisition in a corporate environment
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The role of age factor in SLA has been systematically studied by numerous psycholinguists for many years (Ellis, 1994), starting from the Critical Period Hypothesis (firstly proposed by Penfield and Roberts, 1959, and then popularized by Lenneberg, 1967) and continuing until today. Older L2 learners rarely achieve the native-like fluency which younger learners frequently display, however there are also numerous cases of individuals who mastered an L2 in adulthood (Singleton and Lengyel, 1995; Flege and MacKay, 2011). Moreover, it cannot be forgotten that children lack the linguistic experience, strategies and knowledge which adults posses and which can be useful in learning a new language. Thus it is very difficult to decide which group constitutes better language learners (Arabski, 1997; Jackiewicz, 2009). The situation becomes even more complicated in the case of L3 acquisition when not only all factors influencing SLA are active, but also numerous other processes affect TLA. The aim of this study was to analyse the influence of the age factor and learners’ L2 on TLA in a corporate environment. A group of subjects from an international company situated in the south of Poland agreed to participate in the study. They were native speakers of Polish learning L3-German in their company, but varying in terms of L2 (English and Russian), as well as in terms of age. The participants were between 28 and 62 years old. The results of regularly administered tests focusing on various language skills, obtained by the learners were compared. The subjects also completed questionnaires concerning difficulties they encountered while learning German. Both information sources delivered intriguing results contributing to the area of TLA and age-related research.
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