Teaching English as a Third Language

  • Ulrike JessnerEmail author
  • Jasone Cenoz
Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


In many countries in the world, English is identified as a foreign language with no official status but is increasingly used as the language of wider communication. In a number of these countries, it is common that English is learned as a third language. Recent psycholinguistic research on third language acquisition and trilingualism has made clear that the acquisition of an L3 shares many characteristics with the acquisition of an L2 but it also presents differences. Accordingly, the educational aspects of teaching English as an L3 differ from those of teaching English as an L2 and have more implications concerning the starting age and level of proficiency in each of the languages. The teaching of English as a third language will be described in two European minority language contexts. In the Basque Country, there are two official languages, Basque and Spanish, and English is taught as a third language. In South Tyrol, English is taught as a third language with Italian and German.


English teaching English as third language Early English teaching Multilingual awareness Whole language school curricula Basque country South Tyrol 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.English DepartmentUniversity of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria
  2. 2.Department of Applied LinguisticsUniversity of PannoniaVeszpremHungary
  3. 3.Department of Research Methods in EducationUniversity of the Basque Country, UPV/EHUDonostia-San SebastianSpain

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