Spring naar hoofd-inhoud

Derde-taalverwerving door vroege en late(re) tweetaligen

Meartaligens en taal learen

In dit aio-project wordt gekeken naar de taalontwikkeling van het Engels als een derde taal die sterk verwant is aan de eerste en tweede taal, het Fries en het Nederlands. Het doel is om uit te vinden of de mate van tweetaligheid invloed heeft op de derde-taalontwikkeling. Twee groepen eerstejaars HAVO/VWO-leerlingen (N=77, gemiddelde leeftijd 12.45)  vroege (Fries-Nederlandse) tweetaligen en latere (Nederlands-Friese) tweetaligen  zijn een schooljaar lang gevolgd en verschillende keren getest. Er is gekeken naar hun taalvaardigheid in het Fries, Nederlands en Engels en hun mentale taalverwerking, met als doel om te zien of vloeiende tweetaligheid een positieve invloed heeft op het leren van de derde taal. 


Promovendus (aio)
Mirjam Günther-van der Meij MA

prof. dr. C.L.J. de Bot (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen)

dr. E.L. Klinkenberg (Fryske Akademy), dr. W.M. Lowie (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen)

Meertaligheid en taal leren


Samenwerking met 
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen



[Translate to Dutch:] Posterpresintaasje op de jierkonferinsje fan de American Association of Applied Linguistics (AAAL2016), april 2016.

Do early bilinguals learn a third language easier than late(r) bilinguals?

Earlier research suggests that bilinguals are better third language learners compared to monolinguals. The question we address in this study is how bilingual one needs to be to profit from this advantage and whether this advantage also applies to bilinguals of two closely related languages that learn a third also closely related language.

Background information

As bilinguals, third language learners have the advantage of already knowing two language systems, which makes them more experienced language learners and makes it easier for them to build the third language on those experiences. This study looks  at how bilingual one needs to be to profit from this advantage.

Could this also account for bilinguals from closely related languages?  Frisian, Dutch and English all derive from the same language family: the West-Germanic branch, which also includes, amongst others, German and Afrikaans. Frisian and English share a special relationship. It is said that the Frisians brought their language to Britain when they joined the Anglo-Saxons who went through Frisian territory to invade Britain during the 5th century. When the Anglo-Saxons and Frisian began populating the British Isles they spoke a mutually intelligible language, Old English, which is similar to modern Frisian. Of course, since the migration of the Anglo-Saxons and Frisian, the Frisian and English language have been heavily influenced by Dutch and French respectively. However, there are still traces of similarities. East Anglian fisherman had a rhyme which went:

    Bread, butter and green cheese,
    Is good English and good Friese

Today the Frisians still have their own version of the rhyme which goes:

    Bûter, brea en griene tsiis,
    Is goed Ingelsk en goed Frysk

Even someone who is unfamiliar with both languages can easily spot the similarities. Some Frisians believe that, because of the shared language history, it is easier for them to learn the English language than for for example Dutch speakers.

The current study

This study looks at the development of English as a third language that is closely related to the first and second language, which are either Dutch or Frisian. It looks at both language proficiency and language processing in the three languages involved.

To answer the above questions, two groups of first year high-level secondary school pupils (N=77, mean age 12.5) – fluent Frisian-Dutch bilinguals and non-fluent Dutch-Frisian bilinguals, living in the Province of Fryslân in the Netherlands – are compared on their English language development over a period of one school year. They were tested 3 times on their language proficiency in Frisian, Dutch and English through a speaking task. In addition to fluency, we looked at language processing as measured by two reaction time priming experiments (lexical decision and naming task) comparing the following language pairs: Frisian-English / English-Frisian and Dutch-English / English-Dutch.

Aim of the study

We want to find out if the degree of bilingualism has an impact on third language development. Next to that, we want to find out whether bilingual speakers of related languages have the same advantages in acquiring a third language as bilingual speakers of less related languages do. The study adds to growing research on trilingualism.