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Towards a description of trilingual competence

By C Hoffmann

Abstract

Most studies involving trilingualism have been carried out within the theoretical framework of bilingualism research. No attempt has been made to delimit trilingualism as a concept in its own right, and often it has been assumed to be an extension of bilingualism. In young children, trilingual language acquisition largely follows the path of bilingual acquisition. With regard to language behavior there are again similarities, but certain differences can be observed. As an overview of studies of individual trilingualism, the present article aims to provide a framework for the discussion. Models of bilingual language competence serve as a starting point to an investigation of possible defining features of trilingual competence. Of particular interest are the pragmatic component of language competence; the trilingual's ability to make appropriate linguistic choices in monolingual/bilingual/ trilingual communication modes; and observed codeswitching. The question of how and when a trilingual's languages become activated or deactivated leads to a consideration of language processing and metalinguistic awareness. In the absence of research involving trilinguals, bilingual models are examined with a view to pointing out possible similarities and differences. It is suggested that these are both of a quantitative and qualitative kind, and therefore trilingual competence is distinct from bilingual competence

Topics: PB0001, P1, mem_text_and_place
Publisher: Kingston Press Ltd
OAI identifier: oai:usir.salford.ac.uk:1348

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