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Institute for Language and Communication, 1 February 2012 Lea Meriläinen University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu.

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Presentation on theme: "Institute for Language and Communication, 1 February 2012 Lea Meriläinen University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu."— Presentation transcript:

1 Institute for Language and Communication, 1 February 2012 Lea Meriläinen University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu

2  Meriläinen (2010) Language transfer in the written English of Finnish students  Focus on lexical and syntactic transfer errors in the written English examination of Finnish-speaking and Swedish-speaking Upper Secondary school students  Aims:  To chart how L1 influence manifests itself in the written English of Finnish-speaking students (L1 distant from English)  To track a possible change in error patterns in data from 1990 - 2005 to see if they reflect an improvement in the learners’ English competence (more frequent contacts with English, development of foreign language pedagogy )

3 The Finnish context  Ideal context for the study of cross-linguistic influence  Finnish-speaking majority and Swedish-speaking minority  Swedish related and typologically similar to English, but Finnish distant from both of these languages  Similar cultural and educational backgrounds  Reliable identification of L1 influence  Previous studies: Ringbom (1987, 2007), Jarvis (2000), Jarvis and Odlin (2000)  Ringbom (1987, 2007): Swedish-speaking Finns profit from cross-linguistic similarities between L1 and L2, but more time and effort required from Finnish- speaking Finns to learn English

4  Changes in the context for learning English as a foreign language in Finland  Development of learning materials and language teaching methods  Emphasis on communicativeness  Increased use of English in Finnish society  English is gaining the status of a second language in Finland (Leppänen et al. 2008)  Improvement in Finnish students’ listening and reading comprehension skills over the past 30 years (Takala 1998, 2004)

5 Research questions  What types of transfer-induced deviant patterns occur in the written English of Finnish students?  Have any changes taken place in the quantity and quality of these transfer patterns during 1990–2005, and do they seem to reflect a possible improvement in the students’ written English?

6 Material  Written English compositions from the Finnish national Matriculation Examination from 1990, 2000 and 2005  Finnish-speaking students: altogether 500 compositions (96,789 words)  Comparison corpus by Swedish-speaking students: 136 compositions (28,225 words)  Different proficiency levels equally represented

7 Method  Identification/verification of cross-linguistic influence (Jarvis 2000) 1)Similarities between learners with the same L1 2)Differences between learnes with different L1s 3)Connection between the learner’s L1 and TL use  Evidence for CLI in this study:  Statistically significant differences between Finnish- speaking and Swedish-speaking students  Contrastive analysis of Finnish, Swedish and English

8 Lexical transfer  Nation (2001): L2 learners’ lexical knowledge  Classifying lexical transfer errors according to different aspects of lexical knowledge  Differentiation between lexical and syntactic transfer  3 aspects of L2 learners’ lexical knowledge  Word form  Word meaning  Word use

9 Word form  Orthographic transfer sosial (social) Ekonomy (economy)  Phonetic transfer hoppy (hobby) wort (word)

10 Word meaning  Loan translations animaldoctor (pro vet, cf. Fi. eläinlääkäri) outlooks (pro appearance, cf. Fi. ulkonäkö)  Semantic extensions cat’s spinning ← Fi. kehrätä = spin, purr movies are rolling ← Fi. pyöriä = roll, run / show

11 Word use  Collocations do a choice (pro make) bring up animals (pro rear)  Incorrect use of function words a some pet ← cf. joku ’some’ as a marker of indefiniteness dog, what is big and angry ← cf. mikä ’what’ as a relative pronoun

12 Lexical transfer during 1990-2005

13 Syntactic transfer  Statistically significant differences between Finnish-speaking and Swedish-speaking students  Structural differences between Finnish and English  5 features  The passive construction  Expletive pronoun constructions  Subordinate interrogative clauses and that-clauses  Expressions for future time  Prepositional constructions

14  The passive construction There is a lot of animals in the world, which use an awful way (pro are used, cf. Fi. käyte-TÄ-än ‘use-PAS’) Pets can’t leave or free because they need people (pro can’t be left or freed, cf. Fi. ei voi jättää tai vapauttaa ‘no- 3SG can leave or free’)

15  Expletive pronoun constructions In our culture is unusual if some twenty years old women is married (pro it is unusual, cf. Fi. on epätavallista ‘be-3SG unusual-PAR’) Almost every home is pet (pro there is a pet in almost every home, cf. Fi. melkein joka kodissa on lemmikki ‘almost every home-INE is pet’)

16  Subordinate interrogative clauses and that-clauses It is never easy to divorse so it’s same to you are you married or not (pro whether you are married or not cf. Fi. on sama oletko naimisissa vai et ‘is same are-2SG-CL married or not) We must think that is everything all right (pro if everything is all right, cf. Fi. että onko kaikki kunnossa ‘that is-CL everything all right)

17  Expressions for future time Wars are wars also in the future (pro wars will be wars, cf. Fi. sodat ovat sotia myös tulevaisuudessa ‘wars are wars also future-INE’) I don’t shut out the thought that I live my life alone (pro I will live my life alone, cf. Fi. elän elämäni yksin ‘live-1SG life-ACC-POS alone’)

18  Prepositional constructions Watching news from TV (pro on, cf. Fi. katsoa televisiosta, ‘watch television-ELA’) We live country and we have lot of animals (pro live in the country, cf. Fi. asumme maalla ‘live-3PL country- ADE’)

19 Syntactic transfer during 1990-2005

20 Lexical vs. syntactic transfer

21 Conclusions  For learners whose L1 is genetically and typologically distant from TL, syntactic transfer may be more persistent than lexical transfer  Importance of syntactic transfer underestimated in previous reserarch  Increased exposure to English has helped Finnish learners to overcome negative transfer effects in certain areas of their vocabulary knowledge, but not in their use of syntactic structures which differ from the corresponding L1 structures  Communicative language teaching methods may be insufficient for acquiring L2 syntactic structures which differ from the L1 structures?  Communicatively efficient but grammatically less accurate English?

22 References Jarvis, S. (2000) “Methodological Rigor in the Study of Transfer: Identifying L1 Influence in the Interlanguage Lexicon”. Language Learning 50 (2): 245-309. Jarvis, S. & Odlin, T. (2000) “Morphological Type, Spatial Reference, and Language Transfer”. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 22: 4 (2000): 535-556. Leppänen, S., Nikula, T. & Kääntä, L. (eds.) (2008) Kolmas kotimainen: Lähikuvia englannin käytöstä Suomessa. Tietolipas 224. Helsinki: SKS. Meriläinen, L. (2010)Language transfer in the written English of Finnish Students. Publications of the University of Eastern Finland. Dissertations in Education, Humanities, and Theology, no 9. Joensuu: University of Eastern Finland. Available at: 0230-6/ 0230-6/ Nation, I. S. P. (2001) Learning Vocabulary in Another Language. Cambridge: CUP. Ringbom, H. (1987) The Role of the First Language in Foreign Language Learning. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Ringbom, H. (2007) Cross-linguisitic Similarity in Foreign Language Learning. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. Takala, S. (1998) “Englannin kielen taidon taso Suomessa – Hyvää kehitystä”. In Takala, S. & Sajavaara, K. (toim.) Kielikoulutus Suomessa. Jyväskylä: Soveltavan kielentutkimuksen keskus. Takala, S. (2004) “Englannin kielitaidon tasosta Suomessa”. In Leimu, K. (toim.) Kansainväliset IEA- tutkimukset – Suomi-kuvaa luomassa. Jyväskylä: Koulutuksen tutkimuslaitos / Jyväskylän yliopisto.

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