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Abstract Jessner

The role of metalanguage in the organization of the multilingual mental lexicon. A systems-theoretic approach

Nowadays there are no doubts about the cognitive benefits that the contact with two or more languages can offer for the multilingual learner or user. Over the last 40 years a number of studies on the effects of bilingualism on third language learning have related the cognitive advantages of bilingual learners of an additional language over monolingual learners to enhanced metalinguistic abilities and skills. According to the systems-theoretic approach taken in the Dynamic Model of Multilingualism (DMM; Herdina & Jessner 2002) metalinguistic knowledge and awareness of that knowledge play a crucial role in a dynamic concept of multilingual proficiency since these emergent properties contribute to the catalytic effects of third language learning. Jessner (2006) explored metalinguistic awareness in third language use and found that the use of metalanguage can influence multilingual processing. In this presentation introspective data from adult third language learners will be presented to shed some light on the organization of the multilingual lexicon and the role of metalinguistic awareness in multilingual processing.



Herdina, P. and U. Jessner (2002) A Dynamic Model of Multilingualism: Perspectives of Change in Psycholinguistics. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Jessner, U. (2006) Linguistic Awareness in Multilinguals: English as a Third Language. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press