Testing potential transfer effects in heritage and adult L2 bilinguals acquiring a mini grammar as an additional language: An ERP approach
Pereira Soares, S. M., Kupisch, T., & Rothman, J.
Testing potential transfer effects in heritage and adult L2 bilinguals acquiring a mini grammar as an additional language: An ERP approach. Brain Sciences, 12
: 669. doi:10.3390/brainsci12050669.
Models on L3/Ln acquisition differ with respect to how they envisage degree (holistic
vs. selective transfer of the L1, L2 or both) and/or timing (initial stages vs. development) of how
the influence of source languages unfolds. This study uses EEG/ERPs to examine these models,
bringing together two types of bilinguals: heritage speakers (HSs) (Italian-German, n = 15) compared
to adult L2 learners (L1 German, L2 English, n = 28) learning L3/Ln Latin. Participants were trained
on a selected Latin lexicon over two sessions and, afterward, on two grammatical properties: case
(similar between German and Latin) and adjective–noun order (similar between Italian and Latin).
Neurophysiological findings show an N200/N400 deflection for the HSs in case morphology and a
P600 effect for the German L2 group in adjectival position. None of the current L3/Ln models predict
the observed results, which questions the appropriateness of this methodology. Nevertheless, the
results are illustrative of differences in how HSs and L2 learners approach the very initial stages of
additional language learning, the implications of which are discussed