The attrition of school-learned foreign languages: A multilingual perspective

Ulrike Jessner, Kathrin Oberhofer, Manon Megens
2020 Applied Psycholinguistics  
In the vast body of research on language learning, there is still surprisingly little work on the attrition or retention of second/foreign languages, particularly in multilinguals, once learning and/or use of these languages ceases. The present study focuses on foreign language attrition and examines lexical diversity and (dis)fluency in the oral productions of 114 multilingual young adults, first language German speakers who learned English as their first (FL1) and French or Italian as their
more » ... cond foreign language (FL2), shortly before and approximately 16 months after graduation from upper secondary school. The level of foreign language use after graduation was found to have a noticeable impact on the measured change in output quality in the FL2, but only little in the FL1, where participants' initial proficiency was considerably higher. The amount of use in the FL1 had no visible connection with attrition/maintenance in a rarely used FL2. Those participants who felt their speaking skills in one of their foreign languages had improved were correct in their self-assessment, but the degree to which the remaining subjects felt their speaking skills had deteriorated was not reflected in their productions.
doi:10.1017/s0142716420000557 fatcat:67ukcb32x5hwvoxb6glqtjhrr4