Multilingual Word Recognition In The Mental Vocabulary Of Third Language Learners


Research in the field of bilingual processing of lexical units indicates that access to lexical information in the mental lexicon is non-selective in relation to the language, in other words, the word representations of both languages become active when they are recognized. The experimental study was aimed at testing whether the hypothesis of indiscriminate access is consistent for trilinguals and three languages, and uncovering the role played by proficiency in a second language in acquiring a third language. Thirty-three North Caucasus Federal University students studying German as a third language, who started learning English (L2) as a foreign language in high school, completed the task of recognizing translations of words from Russian (L1) to German (L3). Experimental material included Russian-German, English-German, Russian-English-German cognates, non-cognates, and control words. The participants were divided into two groups depending on the level of English proficiency L2, which was determined based on academic performance and data from questionnaires on the experience of learning a foreign language. As expected, both groups of participants showed faster reaction times (RT) and higher accuracy in recognizing cognates, in addition, Russian-English-German cognates were processed faster than Russian-German and English-German cognates. The experimental results are consistent with the hypothesis of indiscriminate access to lexical information, which implies that all multilingual languages can affect the activation and recognition of words. The experiment did not reveal significant differences in reaction time (RT) and error rates between the two groups of students with different levels of English proficiency L2.

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