The exploration of multilingualism

The exploration of multilingualism: Development of research on L3, multilingualism and multiple language acquisition. Ed. by Larissa Aronin and Britta Hufeisen. (AILA applied linguistics series (AALS) 6.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2009. Pp. vii, 167. ISBN 9789027205223. $128 (Hb).

Reviewed by Richard W. Hallett, Northeastern Illinois University

Taking the stand ‘that multilingualism subsumes bilingualism’ (2), Larissa Aronin and Britta Hufeisen explain in an introductory chapter how this book is the result of the ‘coming of age’ (3) of research in trilingualism. Accordingly, the chapters that follow go beyond the canonical presentation of research on second language (L2) acquisition research. In Ch. 2, ‘Defining multilingualism’ (11–26), Charlotte Kemp not only defines the terms ‘monolingual’, ‘bilingual’, and ‘multilingual’, but also discusses current debates in multilingual acquisition research. Building on Kemp’s claims, Rita Francheschini argues that ‘multilingualism is a separate phenomenon in its own right and not equivalent to bilingualism’ (35) in Ch. 3, ‘The genesis and development of research in multilingualism: Perspectives for future research’ (27–61). In Ch. 4, ‘The development of psycholinguistic research on crosslinguistic influence’ (63–77), Gessica De Angelis and Jean-Marc Dewaele present a succinct literature review of crosslinguistic influence in multilingualism and the foundation of the International Association of Multilingualism.

In Ch. 5, ‘The role of prior knowledge in L3 learning and use: Further evidence of psychotypological dimensions’ (79–102), Muiris Ó Laoire and David Singleton present two multilingual acquisition studies: one on the learning of French as a third language (L3) and the other on German as an L3. To encourage further investigations of multilingual acquisition Larissa Aronin and Britta Hufeisen proffer ‘emerging and promising’ (103) methodologies in Ch. 6, ‘Methods of research in multilingualism studies: Researching a comprehensive perspective’ (103–20). Focusing primarily on the European context, Jasone Cenoz and Ulrike Jessner compare and contrast multilingual education and bilingual education in Ch. 7, ‘The study of multilingualism in educational contexts’ (121–38). To facilitate further research into multilingual acquisition, Peter Ecke lists numerous resources in Ch. 8, ‘Multilingualism resources: Associations, journals, book series, bibliographies and conference lists’ (139–54). The book concludes with Ch. 9, ‘Crossing the second threshold’ (155–60), in which Larissa Aronin and Britta Hufeisen summarize the findings of the previous chapters and discuss future possibilities for research on L3, multilingual, and multiple language acquisition.

This book will be useful as a primary text in new classes on multiple language acquisition and also as a supplemental text in existing classes on second language acquisition.