Third Language Acquisition: Evolving Perspectives

Published in Arizona Working Papers in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching, 2018

Recommended citation: Wang, Y. (2018). Third Language Acquisition: Evolving Perspectives. Arizona Working Paper Vol. 25. 64-81.

This paper critically reviews the evolving perspectives and disciplinary developments in the field of third language acquisition. It illustrates three of the most prominent and widely discussed models, namely Cumulative Enhancement Model (Flynn, Foley, & Vinnitskaya, 2004), L2 Status Factor Model (Bardel & Falk, 2007), Typological Primacy Model (Rothman, 2011), and their later developments/refinements. Based on the comparison of the three models, this article continues with a survey of up-to-date empirical studies and further reconciles the current conflicting findings. It points out potential factors and deficiencies of research designs, including selection of participants, languages involved, linguistic features examined, and elicitation instruments, that may have led to controversial findings. Built upon the critical investigation of existing theoretical frameworks and empirical studies, this paper moves beyond the three models, brings in perspectives that are overlooked in prior research, and identifies the future research directions in the field of third language acquisition.