Learning an L2 and L3 at the same time: Help or hinder?

Huang, T., 2020, [Groningen]. 179 p.

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

Copy link to clipboard


  • Title and contents

    Final publisher's version, 570 KB, PDF document

  • Chapter 1

    Final publisher's version, 207 KB, PDF document

  • Chapter 2

    Final publisher's version, 385 KB, PDF document

  • Chapter 3

    Final publisher's version, 341 KB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 19/10/2021

    Request copy

  • Chapter 4

    Final publisher's version, 365 KB, PDF document

  • Chapter 5

    Final publisher's version, 804 KB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 19/10/2021

    Request copy

  • Chapter 6

    Final publisher's version, 227 KB, PDF document

  • Appendices

    Final publisher's version, 902 KB, PDF document

  • Complete thesis

    Final publisher's version, 2.23 MB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 19/10/2021

    Request copy

  • Propositions

    Final publisher's version, 90.3 KB, PDF document


The aim of this doctoral study is to investigate whether learning a third language (L3) alongside with a second language (L2) helps or hinders the L2 development. Assuming a Complex Dynamic Systems Theory perspective, the current study views language development as a complex dynamic system within which different subsystems are interconnected and in constant change. Such subsystems can be the linguistic subsystems, such as the learners’ L2 and L3, but also the language learning resources, such as the learners’ individual difference (ID) factors. The current study traced 160 participants for 9 months. Pre-test and post-test on the ID factors and L2 speaking proficiency were administrated. L2 writing texts were collected on a tri-weekly basis.

The results show that overall, the L2+L3 learners developed their L2 writing to the same degree as the L2 learners did, but the beginning L2+L3 learners showed higher variability in writing fluency. In addition, the beginning L2+L3 learners started with a higher English motivation and gained more working memory than L2 learners during the observation. Moreover, the variability in L2 writing scores was the best and only predictor for L2 writing proficiency when compared to the ID factors at the pre-test.

In sum, the current study suggested that 1) the addition of an L3 does not hinder L2 writing development within the 9 months of observation; 2) ID factors are constantly changing and may be trained by language learning; 3) the degree of variability indicates the dynamics in L2 writing development and predicts L2 writing gains.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
Award date19-Oct-2020
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Download statistics

No data available

ID: 135925259