An Empirical Study on the Learning Strategies of Trilingual Learners

Jianfeng BU


Double-foreign-language programs have been set in many Chinese universities in the past 20 years. In these universities, some learners have succeeded in learning the second and the third languages, whereas others have not. To explore tentatively the reasons of the learners’ success(or failure) in the language acquisition, the researcher conducts the current research from the perspective of learning strategies. By investigating 126 Chinese-English-Japanese trilingual learners in a Chinese university, the research attempts to answer the two questions: 1. Are learners succeeding in learning the second language also successful in learning the third one? 2. What are the differences between the successful trilingual learners and the poor learners in terms of their use of learning strategies? Based on the data of the test results, questionnaires and interviews on the said participants, the researcher finds that learners successful in the second language learning tend to be successful in the third one. Meanwhile in contrast to poor learners, the good trilingual learners have stronger and more balanced motivations in learning both languages, and they use the metacognitive strategies, affective strategies and social strategies more frequently.


Language learning strategies; Good language learner; Third language acquisition; Double-foreign-language program

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