Linguistics and English Language

Bilingualism reading group

Speaker: Francesca D'Angelo

Title: The Effects of Bilingualism in Third (or additional) Language Acquisition: the Role Played by Metalinguistic Awareness

Abstract: Previous and current research on the positive effects of bilingualism in Third Language Acquisition (TLA) relate the advantages evident in bilingual learners to the influence of bilingualism on cognitive development and, specifically, metalinguistic awareness (MLA) (Bialystok & Barac, 2012, Cenoz 2003, Cenoz & Genesee 1998, Cummins 1978, Jaensch 2009, Jessner 2006).

Although it has been acknowledged that MLA is strongly affected by literacy and grammar related activities, only a few studies have attended to the context and method of acquisition of the bilingual learners’ L2 (e.g. Cenoz 2013, Sanz 2000, Thomas 1988) to account for the positive effects shown in TLA. The study compared the performance of 42 adult bilinguals in German L2, with different levels of instruction, in an artificial language task (Llama-F, Meara 2005). Specifically, the influence of the following factors was examined: level of implicit and explicit MLA, proficiency, instruction and age of acquisition of L2, number of languages mastered, typological proximity.

Correlation, ANOVAs, and multiple regression analysis were conducted to explore the relationship between performance in TLA task and various potential predictors: years of instruction, explicit MLA, overall proficiency, and level of instruction in German L2. In particular, the results indicate that the level of explicit MLA has significant positive regression weight (β = .660, t = 4,461, p < .000), suggesting that bilinguals with better explicit MLA skills are also expected to perform better in TLA, after controlling for the other variables in the model.

Significance and field of application of the study: The main aim of the present study is to promote bilingual education programs by providing evidence that formal instruction received in multiple languages develops higher levels of MLA which, in turn, is a necessary component to fully exploit the benefits of bilingualism in TLA.


Please contact Lihua Xia or Martha Robinson to find out specific dates for this semester and/or to be added on the mailing list.

Lihua Xia

Martha Robinson


Sep 10 2018 -

Bilingualism reading group

2018-09-10: The Effects of Bilingualism in Third (or additional) Language Acquisition: the Role Played by Metalinguistic Awareness

Room S37, Psychology Building, 7 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JZ