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Negative Language Transfer (Mistakes)- Preventing/Overcoming

 
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 939
Location: China

PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 4:14 pm    Post subject: Negative Language Transfer (Mistakes)- Preventing/Overcoming Reply with quote

Once you're familiar with the kinds of mistakes students make on account of L1, do you alter your teaching?

What I've done when teaching young kids is to provide additional and often contrastive practice in just those problem-prone areas, usually over the course of several lessons rather than the single lesson most int'l coursebooks allot. That's part of the reason I cringe when I take over other teachers' classes who haven't done that. It begs explanation but not only are students more accurate as a result, they're more fluent and confident too. It's much harder at a later stage to go back and develop those basic skills again, and it's demotivating--no one likes to do remedial work.

You may also want to comment on the more common problem of when such prevention appears too late--when negative language transfer has already become a systemically fossilized interlanguage (ie: Konglish, Chenglish, Engrish, etc) by repetitive uncorrected L/S/R/W as in this all-too common case:

'Ballerina' on the Elementary Education Forum wrote:
I tutor several elementary grade students from Korea(grades 2-5). They are intermediate/advanced level students and NONE use the past tense when they're writing. On a lucky day, there will be one sentence with a correctly used past tense verb and other days they go on telling their story as if past tense is completely unnecessary. They love to tell their stories (which is great) but all in present tense.

These kids know past tense. We've been doing lots of past tense verbs (regular and irregular). Both in games, reading stories, and worksheet type activities. After I point out their mistakes to them in their written work, they are able to self-correct. But they aren't able to do this alone.

I've done check list type deals where kids have to read their work to check for punctuation and meaning yet the past tense verbs in their eyes just don't exist.

Is this just laziness on their part or is this a time when they're transitioning?

http://forums.eslcafe.com/teacher/viewtopic.php?p=45463#45463

Next time round, I'll bet she'll do things differently--like getting them to retell/alter those same stories after reading, or doing a class guided-writing before getting them to come up with their own. If the past tense isn't second nature for them in speech, it certainly won't appear in their writing. Comments about that sort of thing is what I'm looking for in this thread.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9603
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I tutor several elementary grade students from Korea(grades 2-5). They are intermediate/advanced level students and NONE use the past tense when they're writing.


I find this statement puzzling and I think my confusion is also related to the overall question here.

I know nothing of Korean language; is there no past tense in Korean (seems unlikely)?

I also don't know of any measurement of proficiency that would rate a student of English as intermediate or advanced if he/she isn't proficient with past tense.

So I am unsure if this example refers to L1 interference or basically poor teaching/learning which simply hasn't been effective in teaching (at least some of) the basics. But again, I hasten to say that I know nothing of Korean or Korean students; maybe there is a good reason for this particular problem.

Quote:
Once you're familiar with the kinds of mistakes students make on account of L1, do you alter your teaching?


Not sure what you mean by 'altering my teaching....' I've never altered my teaching in terms of overall goals/aims/approach/method, but obviously some focus on common/typical problem areas is justified.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12382
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is hard to generalise but with some knowldge of the students' L1, it should be possible to contract structures etc in L1 and English.
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choudoufu



Joined: 25 May 2010
Posts: 3325
Location: Mao-berry, PRC

PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 5:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:

I know nothing of Korean language; is there no past tense in Korean (seems unlikely)?


it's possible.

chinese has no tenses, but rather aspects. there are markers
added to indicate past or future or progressive, but the verb never changes.
it's enough to simply add a time word, or in some cases if understood,
nothing at all. some markers indicate completion, others indicate
experience, and others a change of state.

i go store. yesterday i go store. tomorrow i go store.
when i little, i like apple.


--verbs are not conjugated,
--pronouns are not declined.
--he, she and it are all pronounced the same, but with different characters.
--possessives (pronouns and adjectives) are the same.
--there are no articles.
--there are few plurals.

it seems the chinese do not study 'grammar,' but rather memorize several
hundred sentence 'structures' sufficient for everyday communication. few
understand nouns and verbs and adjectives and adverbs. forget prepositions.

how do you determine beginner/advanced/intermediate levels? if you do,
does it matter (to the administration)? students are not streamed by
ability. all students in a given major are grouped together for all classes.
all students pass, and are sent on to the next course.

chinese writing ability will usually be much higher than speaking ability. they
have studied english in middle school and high school, five or more hours per
week, from a chinese teacher who may be unable to speak english.
classes will consist of 'learning' 1000 words per month, and memorizing
(but not understanding) longish texts which will be faithfully reproduced
on the final test.

their system is based on memorization and repetition. tests consist of
repeating dialogs or reproducing a text. creative writing and spontaneous
speaking is not emphasized.

here's a common first conversation with second-year english majors:

teacher: hello.
student: hello.
teacher: how are you?
student: how are you?
teacher: i'm fine, thank you. and you?
student: and you?


Last edited by choudoufu on Mon Jan 07, 2013 5:36 am; edited 1 time in total
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johntpartee



Joined: 02 Mar 2010
Posts: 3236

PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 5:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

choudoufu, that is PERFECT!! I knew there had to be some teachers in China somewhere.
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 939
Location: China

PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 6:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

scot47 wrote:
It is hard to generalise but with some knowldge of the students' L1, it should be possible to contract structures etc in L1 and English.


Can you elaborate on what you mean by 'contract structures'?

In Chinese, the only contraction I'm aware of is with merging the final syllable 'er' with the one preceding it. Many English contractions, on the other hand are not taught, at least not orally so a student reading 'I'll' aloud will say 'I will'.

In researching this issue, I came across this from Wikipedia:
Quote:
Contrastive Analysis

Contrastive analysis is the systematic study of a pair of languages with a view to identifying their structural differences and similarities. Historically it has been used to establish language genealogies.

Contrastive Analysis and Second Language Acquisition

Contrastive Analysis was used extensively in the field of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) in the 1960s and early 1970s, as a method of explaining why some features of a Target Language were more difficult to acquire than others. According to the behaviourist theories prevailing at the time, language learning was a question of habit formation, and this could be reinforced or impeded by existing habits. Therefore, the difficulty in mastering certain structures in a second language (L2) depended on the difference between the learners' mother language (L1) and the language they were trying to learn.
...

Criticism

In its strongest formulation, the Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis claimed that all the errors made in learning the L2 could be attributed to 'interference' by the L1. However, this claim could not be sustained by empirical evidence that was accumulated in the mid- and late 1970s. It was soon pointed out that many errors predicted by Contrastive Analysis were inexplicably not observed in learners' language. Even more confusingly, some uniform errors were made by learners irrespective of their L1. It thus became clear that Contrastive Analysis could not predict all learning difficulties, but was certainly useful in the retrospective explanation of errors.
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VietCanada



Joined: 30 Nov 2010
Posts: 326

PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sure I'm not qualified to enter this discussion but IIRC Korean's conjugate verbs according to social hierarchy. That's why the cab driver asks you if you are married, how old you are and if you have children.

They don't have plurals and often don't literally say the subject in a sentence. They might just glance at it. I don't believe they have tenses. I don't know about aspect.

To answer the OP's query I do alter my teaching as I learn about my students grammar and phonics for example.

Everything you learn about your students language and communication is potentially useful for teaching. Koreans don't have 'r' in their alphabet but if one character set ends with li-ul ( that squarish 2 symbol) and the next set begins with Li-ul then they do say 'r'. Not to mention that almost everyone can say 'kangaroo'. This knowledge can help you teach them to say 'r'.

'Orange' becomes 'orangee' in Korean due to some spelling rule about vowels following consonants. But try spelling 'orange' this way- 'oranj' and you should find your students saying 'orange' properly.

I'm am not a linguistics expert but I absolutely agree that my teaching is affected by my knowledge of my students. And their teachers. You know the ones that teach them to say 'orangee' after you've successfully got them saying 'orange'.
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LongShiKong



Joined: 28 May 2007
Posts: 939
Location: China

PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

VietCanada wrote:
They don't have plurals and often don't literally say the subject in a sentence. They might just glance at it. I don't believe they have tenses.


Same for Chinese but indicating singularity/plurality requires at least one extra syllable explaining its common absence. An additional syllable might not seem much but it would significantly slow speech if reading a long list where the quantity was either understood or irrelevant.

I don't get your point about social hierarchy and verb conjugations. Old English, for example, had far more verb conjugations and even noun transformations between singular and plural (brother vs brethren) than it does now. Was society any more hierarchical in Chaucer's time?

--------------------------------------------------

Have you ever seen foreign teachers using the interlanguage themselves, in class, even teaching it? Shocked

There's apparently no ill intent in such behaviour but not restricting themselves to changing the rate, clarity and phrasing of their speech only undermines their value as native speaking language teachers. Am I the only one who doesn't buy into the notion that "I like apple." and "It's apple." is acceptable for K and pre-Ks? Is there any basis for the argument that pluralization and determiners are too difficult to acquire at that age?

Unlike English, Chinese has over 80 determiners with seemingly arbitrary category rules as to which nouns they correspond with. I'll bet such kids can already use a few dozen flawlessly.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9702
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Foreign teachers using interlanguage"? No such thing, really. This is simply called language degradation and all teachers should refrain from any involvement.
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