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This study aimed to explore how Thai university students applied their prior language knowledge when translating a text from Spanish, an unknown language, into English. The research involved a group of 34 students, whose second language was English, and their third language was French. The assessment of translated texts included quantitative analyses, such as measuring translation accuracy and conducting means comparisons, as well as qualitative investigations via post-task interviews. The results revealed that students with an intermediate level of proficiency in French achieved significantly higher translation accuracy compared to beginners. Insights gleaned from post-task interviews indicated that participants recognized similarities across lexical, phonological, and structural aspects among English, French, and Spanish. These findings highlight the cognitive advantages of exposing students to multiple languages and offer guidance to curriculum developers in higher education institutions seeking to cultivate multilingual graduates.
Keywords: English; French; language acquisition; language transfers; multilingualism; translation task.
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