Volume 56, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0169-7420
  • E-ISSN: 2213-4883
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Research into language attrition was started in Nijmegen in 1982. The initiative was inspired by an American conference held in 1980, the proceedings of which were published in The loss of language skills (Lambert, R. & Freed, B. (eds.). Rowley, MA: Newbury House, 1982).Language attrition research in general aroused a great deal of interest in the Netherlands as well as in other countries. The question what happens to foreign-language skills learned at school was - and still is - considered particularly relevant. This is a phenomenon that most Dutch people know from personal experience: one learns French at school for a number of years, but when one wants to book a hotel room a number of years later, one is lost for words.The original research question was: how much is lost and what is lost? Fifteen years and a number of projects later, we have come to the understanding that things are not as bad as we thought, in the Netherlands at least, for the subjects and skills we tested. Time and again, we found that the skills tested remained intact across very long periods of time and in some cases even improved, even if there had been hardly any exposure to the target language.This paper presents an overview of the findings obtained in fifteen years of Nijmegen research into language attrition, leading to possible avenues for research in the next fifteen years.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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