The strategy use of bilingual learners of a third language: a research agenda

Grenfell, Michael and Harris, Vee (2007) The strategy use of bilingual learners of a third language: a research agenda. In, 5th International Conference on Third Language Acquisition and Multilingualism, Stirling, UK, 03 - 05 Sep 2007. Southampton, UK, 14pp, 1-14.


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This paper addresses the relationship between bilingual students and their use of language learning strategies (LLS) across their first (L1), second (L2) and third languages (L3). There is a long research tradition in studying bilingual learners from a range of perspectives: social-psychological, sociological, ethnographic, etc. Similarly, there is extensive research literature on language learning strategies within the field of second language acquisition (SLA),. There is also a moderate research field on learners of third languages However, there is little literature which brings together these three components - bilingual students, language learning strategies, and the L3 – and virtually no research that does this in the context of UK primary and secondary students learning Modern Foreign Languages (MFLs). Many such students have learnt English as an Additional Language (EAL). We begin by sketching a background to these topics. Here, we draw attention to a range of issues in defining bilingualism and its possible impact on L3 acquisition. We then present a case study of a group of three bilingual learners. We offer both quantitative and qualitative analysis as indicative of their strategy use and performance in MFLs. We discuss the possible reasons for their strategy development. Finally, we make comments on policy and practice with respect to bilinguals and language learning strategies. We refer to recent government policy on bilingual students and their achievement in language learning. We explore the way that ‘strategy’ work has been incorporated into official documents to support teachers’ work with bilinguals. Many of these have not taken a sufficiently process-orientated approach to the language learning strategies that bilinguals may possess and how these may be operationalised in MFLs lessons. We offer the paper as an initial step in an emerging research area which will develop the theoretical, practical and policy-related issues of MFLs’ teaching and learning and bilingual students.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Related URLs:
Keywords: bilingualism, third language, language learner strategies, research
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Education > Professional Practice & Pedagogy
University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Humanities > Modern Languages
ePrint ID: 48447
Date :
Date Event
September 2007["eprint_fieldopt_dates_date_type_delivered" not defined]
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2007
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2014 18:32

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