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Language Transfer

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Cheryl Roloff

on 25 February 2013

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Transcript of Language Transfer

Ringbom (1992) claimed: 2013 2009 2010 2011 2012 Transfer 0 + - = 9 8 7 1 2 3 4 5 6 c There is no single, widely accepted theory of L1 transfer. As Odlin (2003) commented, 'the problems relating to crosslinguistic influence are so varied and so complex that there does not exist any really detailed theory of language transfer' (p. 475). Transfer occurs in both communication and in learning. Researchers like Corder (1983) seek to explain transfer entirely in terms of communication; it is either a performance phenomenon or it is learned as a product of repeated performance. Corder rejected the idea that learners transfer directly from their L1 into their interlanguages. It is also not clear how communication transfer can account for the fossilization of certain L1-influenced structures in learners' interlanguages of the kind that Kellerman (1989) identified in advanced Dutch learners of English and Hans (2000) found in Chinese learners of English. There is evidence that particular transfer errors occur in whole populations with the same L1. Language Transfer Communication and learning transfer are related. by Cheryl Roloff Corder recognized: ...persistent communicatively successful borrowing works backwards, as it were, and the successfully borrowed forms are eventually incorporated into the interlanguage grammar, both the correct and the incorrect. (1983: 94). Transfer in communication is motivated by the learner's desire to comprehend or produce messages, but it may also have an effect on the process of hypothesis construction and testing, which many scholars see as central to interlanguage development. In other words, transfer in communication may lead to transfer in learning. (p. 106) Ringbom suggested that it is transfer in comprehension that is most likely to induce a change in the learner's mental grammar. L2 output and transfer in production can also contribute significantly to interlanguage development. Transfer arises as a result of both differences and similarities between the target language and the L1 We have seen, this was not substantiated by research. In fact, Kleinmann (1978) showed, when a target language feature is notably different from an L1 feature a novelty effect is evident and acquisition may actually be facilitated. It is necessary to consider how similarities and differences interact with other factors. Transfer works in conjunction with other factors It is because transfer is influenced by other factors of both an external and internal nature that it will not be possible to develop a theory that addresses transfer in isolation. Transfer is both conceptual and linguistic If the Whorfian Hypothesis is accepted in either its weak form (language predisposes people to view the world in certain ways) or its strong forms (language binds people to a particular way of viewing the world), then it follows that conceptual transfer is likely but when, how and to what extent is the question. Transfer is ultimately a subjective phenomenon Lado (1957) acknowledged that individual learners respond differently to the problems that arise as a result of differences between the target language and the L1. "Not all the speakers of a language will have exactly the same amount of difficulty with each problem." (p. 72) Conclusion: Problems in the study of Transfer In the early studies, there was a tendency to claim that any L2 error that showed a similarity to an L1 feature was the result of transfer. More recent studies have avoided such misjudgements by carrying out learner comparisons. Over and above the linguistic factors, a variety of individual learner factors have been found to influence transfer--age, motivation, literacy, and social class. There are still a number of problems faced by transfer researchers. Kasper pointed out, 'learners sometimes transfer in want of a better solution even though they consider a given concept non-transferable' (1984b:20). Problem 1: how to distinguish communication and learning transfer
Problem 2: how to compare two languages Crosslinguistic effects are extensive, varied, and persistent. They are also illuminative of the cognitive processes involved in L2 use and acquisition. No theory of L2 use or acquisition can be complete without an account of L1 transfer. Discussion Question #1 By definition L2 acquisition takes place in humans who already possess one or more languages. This being so, the mother tongue universally influences the processes and outcomes of L2 learning. Do you agree? If so, to what extent? Discussion Question #2 The influence of the mother tongue cannot explain all phenomena in interlanguage development. What would be some other factors that would influence the interlanguage development? Discussion Question #3 Can you think of two languages that have examples of positive transfer? Discuss with your group. Can you think of two languages that have examples of negative transfer? Discuss with your group. Discussion question #4 Crosslingusitic influences, even in cases of negative transfer, may or may not lead to ungrammatical solutions. What are some examples of transfer errors that are manifested in grammar? Discussion question #5 Are transfers conscious or unconscious? Discuss with your group.
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