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Project Background

 

In an era of fostering multilingualism worldwide and modernizing the teacher education, this project will fill some existing gaps of socio-political relevance in two countries (Austria and Macedonia). In Austria, 22 % of the whole population speaks a first language other than German (cf. OECD). The Republic of Macedonia is a multi-ethnic society with 36% of the total population belonging to other non-Macedonian ethnic communities (cf. statistical office Skopje, 2002)*. The most numerous minority in Macedonia is the Albanian. Hence, using more than one language daily for the minor ethnic communities in both countries is a common practice. It is not quite clear, however, whether these bilingual individuals who use more than one language daily, but to different extents and with different proficiencies (i.e. balanced and unbalanced bilinguals) would be more successful when acquiring English as a third language (L3) than learners acquiring English as a second language (L2) with no active use of other foreign languages. The main purpose of the proposed project is to address this gap by testing the effects of an input-based instructional intervention (Processing Instruction) and to find out whether its effects, well established for second language acquisition with learners of various first language backgrounds and across different language combinations, will hold equally true for third language acquirers of English and whether the typological (un)relatedness or the type of bilingualism could account for potential differences in the way how L2 and L3 learners process grammatical input. Reaction times and accuracy-data will be collected within a pre-/posttest design in both countries. Moreover, our project will not only offer results about the effectiveness of the intervention as based on pre- and posttests but also insights into the real-time processes during the intervention itself and how this intervention impacts neural responses (on randomly selected groups). Eventually, our project will lead to practical implications for research-informed foreign language lessons and teaching materials/tools.

 

Finally, the main aim of our project is to stimulate international research cooperation between the two countries and support early-stage and female researchers to develop their scientific career.

 

*Due to the suspended census in 2011, there are no current and accurate numbers.

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