When someone begins a third (or nth) language they often struggle to inhibit previously learned languages, something that established multilinguals do without much difficulty. In this qualitative survey encompassing 298 multilinguals representing different languages, proficiency levels, and learning histories, an attempt was made to identify what strategies, if any, multilinguals are aware of using which help them to successfully inhibit competing lexemes from non-target languages, with the goal of identifying strategies or commonalities that may assist budding multilinguals. Multilinguals reported noticing their interference most in conversing and mostly as applied to vocabulary; however, for most it did not occur very frequently nor was it found very frustrating. While any language has the potential to be the source language, the source language tends to be a non-native language that is dominant, was started earlier, and/or was similar to the target language. On the whole, participants had positive or neutral attitudes towards their interference. Most had not asked for advice in coping with it, and most were not aware of any strategies they may use. The strategies reported can be divided into strategies for students (cognitive, preparatory, and communication), and implications for teachers at the classroom and individual levels. Further research is necessary to test these strategies and to more deeply explore the relationship between source and target language.
Date of Degree
Master of Science (MS)
World Languages and Cultures
Arts and Humanities
Ruskin, A. (2016). How Multilinguals Perceive Linguistic Interference [Master’s thesis, Minnesota State University, Mankato]. Cornerstone: A Collection of Scholarly and Creative Works for Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/etds/609/
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