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Keywords:

  • language aptitude;
  • bilingualism;
  • multilingualism;
  • CANAL–FT;
  • PPLI

ABSTRACT

This study is an attempt to fill the gap in SLA research regarding the understudied interface of language aptitude and multilingualism. Although there have been numerous studies lauding the benefits of bilingualism and multilingualism, very few studies have examined the relationship between language aptitude and previous language experience (cf. Sanz, 2000). Using the Cognitive Ability for Novelty in Acquisition of Language (Foreign) aptitude test (CANAL–FT), which is based on Sternberg's (2002) triarchic theory of human intelligence, the language aptitude scores from 79 Brazilian language learners were analyzed using one-way ANOVAs. Interviews were also conducted to obtain further insight to the participants' language learning experiences. Both quantitative and qualitative analyses were employed; the results indicate that previous language experience has an effect on language aptitude, thus supporting the concept of language aptitude as a dynamic feature. Furthermore, even those participants with a small amount of previous language learning experience outperformed those with no language learning experience other than English on the CANAL–FT, as did those participants who exhibited the feature of Perceived Positive Language Interaction (PPLI). Thus, the results also indicate a need to closely monitor the linguistic background of participants in future studies, as previous language experience was shown to have a significant effect on language aptitude scores.