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Review of  English in Europe- The Acquisition of a Third Language

Reviewer: Malcolm Awadajin Finney
Book Title: English in Europe- The Acquisition of a Third Language
Book Author: Jasone Cenoz Ulrike Jessner
Publisher: Multilingual Matters
Linguistic Field(s): Psycholinguistics
Issue Number: 12.166

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Jasone Cenoz & Ulrike Jessner, editors (2000): English in Europe: The
Acquisition of a Third Language, Multilingual Lingual Matters Ltd,
xii, 271 pp. ISBN 1-85359-480-6 (hbk) 1-85359-479-2 (pbk)

Reviewed by: Malcolm A. Finney, California State University Long

This text primarily addresses the issue of the spread of English as a
lingua franca in continental Europe, with emphasis on its acquisition
as a third language. The book is divided into four broad sections
that contain useful information not only for researchers in
acquisition, multilingualism, and education, but also for language
planners and administrators.

The first section (chapters 1 and 2) examines the sociolinguistic
implications of English as a third language Europe, particularly the
growing status and implications of English as lingua franca. Chapter
1: ''The Spread of English and the Growth of Multilingualism with
English in Europe'' (by Charlotte Hoffmann) looks at the spread of the
different varieties of English in Europe and the diglossic
relationship that currently exists between English and other
languages in non-English-speaking European countries. The chapter
outlines the expanding influence of English in various domains
including education, science, commerce, sports, entertainment,
tourism, etc.

Chapter 2: ''English as a European Lingua Franca: Current Realities
and Existing Dichotomies'' (by Alan James) examines the factors that
sometimes necessitate the use of a neutral language (English) as
lingua franca in some European countries. The chapter discusses the
numerous factors, including function, context, and age, that
influence language choice by individuals. The chapter further
discusses other issues relevant to the development of competence in
English such as the Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills
(BICS)/Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) distinction
proposed by Cummins (1977, 1981). This was not neatly tied in to the
major theme of the chapter however.

The second section (chapters 3-5) evaluates the cognitive (positive
and negative) implications of multilingualism. Chapter 3: ''Research
on Multilingual Acquisition (by Jasone Cenoz) focuses on the
different forms and notions of multilingualism and the different
routes taken by learners in achieving trilingualism. Cummins'
Developmental Interdependence Hypothesis is revisited and research
studies cited in the chapter indicate a positive correlation between
competence in L1 and L2 and success in L3 acquisition.

In Chapter 4: ''Putting Language Proficiency in its Place: Responding
to Critiques of the Conversation/Academic Language Distinction'', Jim
Cummins addresses the criticism levied against his dual language
proficiency distinction (BICS vs. CALP), a popular theme of this
text. He discusses these proficiencies within the context of
trilingual education and warns of potentially negative consequences
of premature withdrawal of children from bilingual, trilingual, and
transitional programs.

Chapter 5: ''The Dynamics of Third Language Acquisition'' (by Philip
Herdina & Ulrike Jessner) examines the different factors that trigger
variation in multilingual acquisition. Different learners apply
different processes and strategies. They argue for a more complex
process for third language acquisition, which is distinct from that
for second language acquisition.

Section three (chapters 6-8) looks at research on the acquisition of
English as L3 by subjects with diverse European languages as L1 and
L2 and the psycholinguistic implications of developing competence in
L3. Chapter 6: ''Metaphorical Competence in Trilingual Language
Production'' (by Istvan Kecskes & Tunde Papp uses a longitudinal study
to evaluate metaphorical density in L2 and L3. The chapter makes a
distinction between being multilingual and being multicompetent. The
latter implies a 'common underlying conceptual base' (p. 99) for all
languages. This chapter contains useful information but may be too
technical for those with limited background in multilingualism.

In chapter 7: ''Word-Fragment Completions in Second and Third
Language: A Contribution to the Organization of the Trilingual
Speaker's Lexicon'', Ute Schonpflug focuses on the structure of the
trilingual lexicon. The chapter discusses the interdependence and
independence of the three lexical systems and how this may be
influenced by degree of competence in all three languages.

Chapter 8: ''Toward the Construction of a Theory of Cross-Linguistic
Transfer'' (by Christine Bouvy) is based on a topic that has received
modest attention in acquisition and multilingual studies: Cross-
linguistic influence of L2 in L3. Making reference to a research
study, Bouvy acknowledges relatively low frequency of L2-L3 transfer
compared to L1-L2 transfer. The conclusions of this chapter may be
misleading however since transfer may be triggered by a number of
factors including perceived similarities and differences between L2
and L3 by the learner. Perceived similarities generally trigger
transfer. Bouvy also concludes that L2-L3 transfer is a feature of
language use, not structure.

The final section (chapters 9-13) also utilized research to address
the educational implications of acquisition of English as L3,
primarily the introduction of English as L3 in bilingual education in
Europe. Chapter 9: ''Bilingualism and Trilingualism is School Students
in Catalonia'' (by Carmen Munoz) examines the potentially beneficial
effects of immersion in Catalan in schools in Catalonia based on a
research study that evaluates the development of linguistic
competence in Catalan, Spanish, and English. This study confirms a
positive correlation between competence in L1 and L2 and success in
developing competence in L3. The study further reveals no negative
influence of use of home language on minority language education.

In chapter 10: ''Three Languages and Three Linguistic Models in the
Basque Educational System'', David Lasagabaster explores the
interaction of Basque, Spanish, and English in the educational system
of the Basque Autonomous Community. A research study evaluates
students' competence levels in all three languages and indicates
support of the Developmental Interdependence Hypothesis and the
Thresholds Hypothesis (Cummins). There was positive correlation
between degree of competence in L1 and L2 (Basque and Spanish) and
success in L3 (English) acquisition.

Chapter 11: ''The Role of English as L3 in a Swedish Immersion
Programme in Finland: Impacts on Language Teaching and Language
Relations (by Siv Bjorklund and Irmeli Suni) looks at the growing
importance of English as a foreign language in Swedish/Finnish
Immersion Programs in Finland. It further evaluates the increasing
use of the communication-based approach to teaching English as L3.

Chapter 12: ''Trilingual Primary Education in Friesland (by Jehannes
Ytsma) reports on a longitudinal study that examined the interaction
of Frisian, Dutch, and English as compulsory school languages in the
officially bilingual province of Friesland in the Netherlands. The
study evaluates the effects of attitudes/motivations and
additive/subtractive bilingualism on children's development of
trilingual competence and the maintenance of a minority L1.

In Chapter 13: ''Teaching English as a Third Language to Hungarian-
Romanian Bilinguals'', Tatiana Iatcu examines the use of Hungarian,
Romanian, and English in the Romanian educational system and the
growing importance of English as L3. The chapter evaluates a shift in
teaching methods and materials to help children develop communicative
competence in L3 English.

Chapter 14: ''Expanding the Scope: Sociolinguistic, Psycholinguistic,
and Educational Aspects of Learning English as a Third Language in
Europe'' (by Jasone Cenoz and Ulrike Jessner) provides a synthesis of
the issues discussed in the different chapters.

One of the strengths of this text is that most of the chapters are
based on current empirical research and experimental data. The
introductory sections of each chapter generally provide some
historical or geographical background information for readers that
are not familiar with the countries or regions in which the research
was conducted.

I find the text a bit narrow in focus. Most of the authors (13 out of
16) are affiliated with European educational institutions. The
primary focus of the text is on the development of trilingual
competence and trilingual education in a few European countries. The
implications for multilingual education outside of Europe are
limited. It however provides an invaluable resource for those working
on multilingualism and multilingual education in Europe and the
authors demonstrate intimate knowledge of the subject matter. This
would be an excellent text for a multilingual course in a European
institution. Non-European institutions may find this text useful as a
supplemental text.

The text is also easy to read with the possible exception of chapter
6, which contains a wealth of terminologies, that the average reader
may find intimidating.

Cummins, J. (1979): Cognitive/academic language proficiency,
linguistic interdependence, the optimum age question and some other
matters. Working Papers on Bilingualism 19, 121-129

Cummins, J. (1981): The role of primary language development in
promoting educational success for language minority students.
California State Department of Education (ed) Schooling and Language
Minority Students: A Theoretical Framework, 3-49, Los Angeles:
Evaluation, Dissemination and Assessment Center, California State

[For Cenoz's response to this review see -- Eds.]
The reviewer is an Assistant Professor at California State University,
Long Beach. His research interests are first and second language
acquisition processes: similarities and differences, and implications
for second language instruction.

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