The evolution of perspectives on the role of transfer during multilingual development

2014 IJRSLL – Volume 3 Issue 3


Tavakol, Mahboobeh*
Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Yazd (

Jabbari, Ali Akbar
Yazd University, Iran (


Multilingualism or using multiple languages by either an individual or a speech community is a unique and commonplace achievement for most of the world’s population. The role of L1 on the acquisition of L2 has a long well-documented history. In addition, research from L3 acquisition critically informs current debates concerning the need to investigate the true architecture of multilingualism. The main question is posed as if after a certain level of proficiency is achieved does L1 maintain its privileged role on the acquisition of the subsequent languages or is it possible that language learning is a cumulative process? Several hypotheses are, so far, proposed to account for the role of transfer during multilingual development. The scholars, pondering on what constitute the nature of multilingualism, have approached the acquisition of L3 form the linguistic trend of transfer; however, their proposals are contrasting and seemingly incompatible. This study was an attempt to give a less contaminated picture of the various perspectives towards the interplay amongst the languages during multilingual acquisition, views on the notion of transfer, L3 acquisition hypotheses and synthesis and analysis of studies by erudite researchers in the field. To achieve this, 23 research articles conducted on the effects of bilingualism on L3 acquisition from the perspective of cross-linguistic influence were reviewed meticulously. The end result is a holistic picture of multilingualism. It means to be practical aims at those who are involved in the field of additional language acquisition and has pedagogical implications as far as language learners and practitioners are concerned.

Keywords: L2 acquisition; L3 acquisition; multilingualism; transfer; CLI



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