Examining the role of L2 syntactic development in L3 acquisition

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We examine the role of L2 syntactic development in L3 acquisition. Participants included 132 L3 learners of English (L2 Russian/L1 Tuvan) and 20 L2 learners of English (L1 Russian). The study focused on the comprehension of coordinate clauses and relative clauses, structures which are similar in Russian and English; L3 learners were tested in both languages. Results for the L3 learners showed that better performance in L2 Russian led to better performance on L3 English coordinate clauses. However, performance on L3 English relative clauses was better predicted by level of English proficiency than L2 Russian syntactic development. We propose that morphosyntactic differences between the L2/L3 can hinder the potential for facilitation between languages despite similarities at the level of syntax.


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