The L2 status factor and the declarative/procedural distinction

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This chapter deals with the assumed qualitative difference between the learning of a chronologically true L2 and the subsequent learning of an L3, and the related issue of transfer from L2 into L3. In fact, some recent studies show that L2 can take on a stronger role than L1 as a transfer source in L3 learning. A possible explanation for this phenomenon is a strong impact of the <i>L2 status factor</i>, which we argue is due to the higher degree of cognitive similarity between L2 and L3 than between L1 and L3. Further theoretical support to the L2 status factor, as one of several possibly interacting factors that may determine the transfer source (L1, L2/s), is here provided by a neurolinguistic account, suggesting that the distinction between declarative and procedural memory can account for what might lie behind it.


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