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A Tentative Study Of The Nature Of Language Transfer In The Process Of Second Language Acquisition

Posted on:2006-06-16Degree:MasterType:Thesis
Country:ChinaCandidate:N H PengFull Text:PDF
GTID:2155360182487990Subject:English Language and Literature
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The thesis aims to investigate the nature of language transfer in the process of SLA in order to find out an effective way to facilitate L2 learning and improve the quality of L2 teaching.In the field of SLA research, language transfer has long been a controversial research subject. It was initially associated with behaviorist theories of language learning and was seen as an impediment (a cause of errors). It was considered to only hinder the acquisition of a L2. However, the development of Interlanguage Theory and the flourishing of psycholmguistics have finally recognized the significance of the role of the L1 in SLA. Learner's L1 is viewed as a resource which the learner actively draws in interlanguage development. The positive role of language transfer in SLA has been gradually acknowledged.According to Ellis, it is possible to identify four manifestations of transfer. There are positive transfer, negative transfer, avoidance and over-use. Positive transfer results in correct performance while negative transfer results in errors. Over-use can also result from transfer—often as a consequence of the avoidance or underproduction of some 'difficult' structure. However, the thesis mainly explores positive and negative transfer in SLA.Language transfer phenomena tend to appear in language learners' language, i.e. their interlanguage. Interlanguage is an independent language system of L2 learners, which exists between the L1 and L2. It is a transitional system reflecting the learners' current second language knowledge. Though it is full of errors, some rules of it can be observed. Selinker (1972) points out that five principal processes are operating in the interlanguage system. They are: language transfer;overgeneralization of L2 rules;transfer of training;strategies of L2 learning and strategies of L2 communication. Here, language transfer is listed first. Selinker (1992)claims in his book Rediscovering Interlanguae that language transfer is the essence of interlanguage theory and highlights the role language transfer plays in constructing learner's L2 system.On the basis of previous researches, this thesis makes a tentative but detailed exploration of both positive and negative transfer at three different language levels between the LI and the L2 through learner's interlanguage, namely, phonetic level, syntactic level and cultural level, so as to give the reader a clear picture of both the negative and positive roles that the LI plays in the process of SLA rather than only emphasizing its harmful effect. The interlanguage examples collected in this thesis were produced by the lst-year students in the English Departmet of Hunan University of Science and Engineering. In the process of analyzing, we have found a lot of dissimilarities which result in negative transfer and also a lot of surprising similarities which demonstrate that the positive transfer of learners' LI will certainly facilitate the acquisition of their L2. What is necessary is to convert negative transfer into positive and bring positive transfer into full play.In addition to the employment of the empirical results of the studies done by some researchers such as Lu Xiaoyong, we have conducted an empirical study on our own. The data, which derive from the 112 second-year students' achievements in both putonghua and English pronunciation, are processed by the software Statistical Package for Social Science, or SPSS for short. The result is that learner's putonghua is correlated with his/her English pronunciation, and the correlations are high. It proves that those who have systematically learned the Chinese phonetic alphabet are good at taking in English phonetic knowledge. It further proves the positive effect of language transfer and the facilitating role of learner's LI.Language transfer is a very complex process, there are many factors affecting it and these factors interact with each other. These factors arepointed out from linguistic and non-linguistic perspectives, including metalingual awareness, sociolinguistic factors, markedness, language distance and psychotypology, and developmental factors etc.Since there is a close relationship between transfer theory and teaching methodology, this thesis puts forward some implications on L2 teaching. In L2 teaching, as English language teachers, we should make appropriate use of learners' LI, be fully aware of the significance of linguistic universals, make full use of the similarities and differences between these two languages, realize the importance of cultural knowledge and introduce cultural background to the learners.
Keywords/Search Tags:language transfer, positive transfer, negative transfer, interlanguage, second language acquisition (SLA)
PDF Full Text Request
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