Russian Language Journal


Ewa Golonka


foreign language, childhood, learning, conversion, cross-training


Existing research provides evidence that learning one foreign language, and learning it well, makes learning another much easier. Learning another foreign language as an adult is easier both for those who acquired a second language (L2) in childhood and for those who acquired a second language as adolescents or adults in school. The learning of multiple languages within school settings in European countries, such as Benelux, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, is a common experience. In the United States, deliberate adult third language (L3) instruction—which accounts for learner’s knowledge of other foreign languages—has been primarily in U.S. government training institutes. 2 In these training institutes, two types of third language instruction are practiced: conversion and cross-­‐‑training. Conversion refers to the retraining of individuals with demonstrated proficiency in one foreign language into a closely related language; for instance, L2 speakers of Russian learning Serbian/Croatian. Cross-­‐‑ training refers to L3 instruction in which learners acquire an unrelated language, e.g., L2 speakers of German learning Arabic.