Presentation on theme: "Error in Foreign Language Learning and the Concept of Interlanguage"— Presentation transcript:
1 Error in Foreign Language Learning and the Concept of Interlanguage Dávid Gergely
2 Communicative Language Teaching Extreme view 1:“Is error correction necessary at all?”Indeed, few errors impede communication. According to the CEFR, errors that impede communication are not (should not be) typical above level B1.Many errors simply appear to be “not nice”: no more than deviations from the linguistic norm that is taught.Extreme view 2:“Fluency matters; accuracy is secondary?” – A completely utilitarian point of view… Then why all the fuss? Why bother? Stop teaching grammar!
3 Errors rarely cause miscommunication because language (communication) is redundant. Why can we understand each other even over a cracking telephone line?Why can we do cloze tests?Why do native speakers „swallow” much grammatical information?Tenses and adverbs reinforce each otherRepetition of the same/similar words provide lexical cohesionContext of situation can explain much.Counterexample: No redundancy in Hear-Say cards.
4 Fluency and accuracyFluency assumes accuracy: no fluency without accurate knowledge of the language systemsSome or a degree of fluency and accuracyThe case of the baker in FlushingThe „lurker” in SwedenThe proverbial businesspersonDeveloping underlying competencies (Ági’s lecture) of grammar, vocabulary, phonology, etc. should result in fluent communication.Assumptions of CLT: Why sound discrimination tests are no longer used – sink vs. think
5 More balanced views Accept the need for error correction. Teachers must have a selective strategy to deal with errors. Must decidewhether to do correction,and if so what to correct, when and how to do it.Insights from psychology, motivational studies, linguistics, etc.
6 Teacher’s selective strategy Whether to deal with the error…Yes, because error is right for the level (syllabus design, acquisition order studies)Or no, because st knows this bit of grammar; it is only a production error (the long process of regularisation, SLA studies, linguistics)No, because st cannot pay attention to it (psychology)No, because immediate corrrection disrupts fluency-focused ecercises. (psychology and motivation studies)
7 Interlanguage (learner language) Structured systems that learners construct for themselvespermeable and dynamicsystematic (rules)Hunglish, Spanglish, etc.“elementary Hunglish”“intermediate Hunglish”“advanced Hunglish”And also: EngarianDifferent labels for (roughly) the same: interlanguage samples and errors
8 The background Two currents of thought Current 1: Errors are bad habits transferred from the mother tongue. Therefore stigmatised and imply value judgement.Current 2: Errors are considered “stepping stones to learning”. They are useful because they show the language learner as a thinking individual who constructs his-her language towards a system in its own right.useful sources of learning and quite revealingsometimes even funnyErrors cannot be fully explained on the basis of only one of these.
9 The Stepping Stones Useful sources of learning: Engarian *Hogy szereted?Often quite revealing: I'm driving to work at eight tomorrow: to+infinitive or prep.+noun?Engarian *Halnap nyolckor megyek a munkához.Sometimes even funny: Engarian *szóemésztö *Sötét sört kérek!
10 Current 1: Roots in Behaviourism L1 habits affect L2 habits: transferHunglish *I know to ski. vs. I can ski.Angry Engarian speaker: *Nem bírom, amikor nem húzod a súlyodat!Transfer theory: What was learnt earlier is the basis for further learning.Always takes place.Positive and negative transfer.Positive transfer: hétfőn - on MondayNegative transfer: az angol órán *on the English lesson
11 Chief tool: Contrastive Analysis CA compares L1 and L2. Differences mark the difficulties, where negative transfer will take place.Pedagogical motivation: CA to predict areas of difficulty so that teachers could focus only on them.Strong form of CA: Teachers only have to select these entrenched bad habits for the focus of their teaching and drill students out of them.Problems: Inaccurate predictions by CA.
12 Current 2: Roots in Cognitvism: The learner is a thinking individual.Processes very similar to the acquisition of L1.Hypothesis testing is the process responsible for the continual revision of the interlanguage system.I’m going to work…Do vs. makeOvergeneralisationEngarian *Add ide a késet.SimplificationL1: *Én vagyok a jegejősebb!
13 Chief tool: Error Analysis (EA). To discover and describe learners’ errors with the aim of understanding how learners process the second language.Does not attempt to predict learner errors.Compares the learners’ interlanguage and L2.
14 A modern interlanguage theory Reappraisal of transfer: Error (or difficulty) as a multi-factor phenomenon.A hierarchy of difficulty may be established on the basis of L1-L2 comparisons.L1 has one form, whereas L2 has two.A category in L2 does not exist in L1.A familiar category in L1 is absent in L2.L1 has two forms and L2 has one.L1 transfer as learner strategy. Results from “borrowing” from L1 resources. Building on previous learning.
15 Transfer as multi-factor phenomenon Transfer of trainingHunglish *I'm ready (with the exercise). vs. I've finished.Engarian *Tegnap el adtam az automat, és meg vetem az ujat.Transfer of strategies of L2 learningHunglish *We were spending the night there. We were walking around.Transfer of strategies of L2 communicationHow are you? Hunglish: *Fine, thanks. It was such an awful day...
16 Overview of interlanguage CurrentProcessesSourceBehaviourismInterference from the learner’s mother tongue (L1)transfer,transfer of training,transfer of L2 learning,transfer of strategies to L1 communication„L1 interference”(interlingual)CognitivismDevelopment of the learner’s foreign language competenceOvergeneralisationSimplificationRegularisation„developmental” (intralingual)?Avoidance strategies learners use.Difficulty often results in the avoidance of error rather than the error itself.No easily observable error.
17 Required readingGass, S.M. and Selinker, L. (1994) The role of the native language: An historical overview (Chapter 3). In: Second Language Acquisition. An introductory course. Hillsdale, NJ. Lawrence Erlbaum, ppRead any 5 (numbered) sections in Doughty, S. and Thompson, G. (1983) Problem English, Tankönyvkiadó.