Why Learn Languages? Languages Build Plurilingualism
Second-language learning is beneficial on many levels, but to what extent? Let’s look at the eighth article of the series, based on the Literature Review on the Impact of Second-Language Learning (2017), to discover how learning an L2 can help you learn additional languages.
Additional Language Learners
Contrary to popular belief, learning an additional language does not negatively impact children's overall language development. In fact, research into language acquisition has found that multilingual speakers have an easier time learning additional languages because of their increased aptitude for language learning.
For example, one study conducted at the University of Haifa in Israel (2011) compared how well two groups of students acquired English as a foreign language: one group consisted of unilingual speakers of Hebrew as a first language and the second group consisted of multilingual speakers of Russian as a first language and Hebrew as a second language. Researchers found that the group of multilingual students were more proficient in both Hebrew and in English, compared to the unilingual native Hebrew speakers. The researchers concluded that “acquiring a mother tongue and preserving that language in a bilingual environment does not come at the expense of learning a second language.”
A similar study by Tremblay (2006) supported these findings. Tremblay found that native English speakers with high proficiency in French as a second language performed better at learning German as a third language compared to those who were less proficient in French as a second language.
In conclusion, research has shown that speaking additional languages is more likely to have a significant impact on the process of acquiring additional languages (Hammarberg, 2001).
Abu-Rabia, S., & Sanitsky, E. (2010). Advantages of bilinguals over monolinguals in learning a third language. Bilingual Research Journal, 33(2), 173–199. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/274070300_Advantages_of_bilinguuals_over_Monolinguals
Hammarberg, B. (2001). Roles of L1 and L2 in L3 Production and Acquisition. In Cenoz, J., Hufeisen, B., & Jessner, U. (Eds.), Cross-linguistic Influence in Third Language Acquisition: Psycholinguistic Perspectives (pp. 21–41). Multilingual Matters LTD. http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:178594/FULLTEXT01.pdf
Tremblay, M. (2006). Cross-linguistic influence in third language acquisition: The role of L2 proficiency and L2 exposure. Cahiers linguistiques d’Ottawa/Ottawa Papers in Linguistics, 34(January/February), 109–119. http://aix1.uottawa.ca/~clo/Tremblay.pdf
University of Haifa. (2011, February 1). Bilinguals find it easier to learn a third language. ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110201110915.htm