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A Study Of Transfer Of Mother Tongue In Postgraduates’ English Writings

Posted on:2013-04-16Degree:MasterType:Thesis
Country:ChinaCandidate:H Y ZhangFull Text:PDF
GTID:2235330395953655Subject:Foreign Language Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Abstract/Summary:PDF Full Text Request
The term "transfer" is first defined by behaviorists to refer to the process of automatic, uncontrolled and subconscious use of past learned behavior in the attempt to produce new responses. According to behaviorists, the main impediment to learning was interference from the prior knowledge. Psycholinguists use the term to refer to the influence imposed by a learner’s possessed linguistic knowledge and skill upon the subsequent learning of new linguistic knowledge or skill. Generally speaking, there are two types of transfer, that is, positive transfer and negative transfer. Positive transfer, as its name suggests, plays a positive role of facilitating the process of target language acquisition. Negative transfer, on the contrary, impedes it.Negative transfer of mother tongue has been a controversial issue in foreign language learning, and writing is always difficult for Chinese students as well as for teachers of English. Transfer theory argues that learners have common writing skills; when their acquisition of the target language reaches a certain level, the native language will naturally facilitate the process of target language acquisition. The present thesis, which aims at exploring transfer of mother tongue in English writings of undergraduates and postgraduates, is desired to be of some help to both language teachers and language learners.Non-major postgraduates of Taiyuan University of Technology are chosen as the subjects in the study of this thesis. Based on the learners’performance in their exercises in class and after class, problems of transfer are thoroughly studied and analyzed. The author of this thesis tries to discuss the negative transfer of the first language thinking patterns from the perspectives of writing process and writing product, combining with quantitative and qualitative analysis. The aim is to figure out the relationship between the Chinese thinking patterns and English writing of the students’ and the common features of the errors committed by the students at different English levels. The examples of the analysis come from the author’s observation of the students’performance in the class-discussion and their homework assignment.First of all, based on the empirical data, the thesis analyzes the negative transfer of the first language thinking patterns in Chinese students’writing from the standpoints of lexis, syntax and discourse. According to the results from the data collection and the interviews, the author has the following findings:(1) Negative transfer of the Chinese thinking patterns is present at all language levels.(2)The errors in the aspect of the location of the topic rank first, which indicates the students are not familiar with the English thinking and writing patterns. Since this is quite easy to explain and understand, the students make quick adjustment in their writing.(3) For all of the students in the research, Chinese sentence patterns are the biggest obstacles in their writing process, as they made the many errors in this part and it’s hard for the students to understand the differences between the sentence patterns in a short time.(4)What distinguish the high-level students from the others are the aspects of syntactic transfer and pragmatic transfer. Since the students with higher writing proficiency made much fewer errors in these two parts than the other students.After analyzing the data, the author carried out interviews in the classroom and made notes. The results reveal that almost all of the students employ the first language thinking patterns in conceiving, choosing words, and arranging the composition.Finally, the author suggests some pedagogical implications to avoid negative transfer, including (1) to enhance the learners’comprehensive ability and emphasize the cultural information input;(2) to encourage learners to think in native ways;(3) to enforce the teachers’and the students’understanding of negative transfer by introducing contrastive analysis;(4) to encourage the students to use proper dictionaries; and (5) to use appropriate criteria to correct the writing.
Keywords/Search Tags:language transfer, positiVe transfer, negative transfer, native language, language acquisition, strategies
PDF Full Text Request
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