Contrastive and error analysis: Methodology of language teaching
Posted by bichhuyen on Aug 22, 2009 - 03:45 PM (3217 Reads)
For a Chinese learner of English, the third person singularform and the plural ending '-s' or '-es' are the commonsources of errors, even though both forms are the very basicitems to learn in English and superficially simple.Thisdifference in only one system between the two languages hasalready been a great source of error for the learners betweenthe two languages. This brings out the major concern of contrastive analysis and error analysis (CA and EA) inapplied linguistics for second or foreign language teaching.
For a Chinese learner of English, the third person singular form and the plural ending '-s'or '-es' are the common sources of errors, even though both forms are the very basic itemsto learn in English and superficially simple. '-S' or '-es' endings are readily dropped in both the written and spoken forms of English for a Chinese learner. The reason isobvious: in Chinese, the plurality of the NP is encoded in the preceding numerals or determiners. Thus 'two sisters' becomes 'two sister' (liang zimei
), 'five boxes' (wuzhi hezi
), literally in English: 'five item box'. 'Zhi' is a kind of measurementclassifier indicating a kind of 'unit' of the referent. This is also something special in theChinese language, and may cause similar difficulty for an English learner of Chinese.This difference in only one system between the two languages has already been a greatsource of error for the learners between the two languages. This brings out the major concern of contrastive analysis and error analysis (CA and EA) in applied linguistics for second or foreign language teaching.Contrastive linguistics owes its origin to the American linguist C. C. Fries who stated in1945 thatThe most effective materials are those that are based upon a scientific description of thelanguage to be learned, carefully compared with a parallel description of the nativelanguage of the learner.#This assumption was taken up by Robert Lado more than ten years later in his Linguisticsacross Cultures in which the theoretical foundation of CA was laid down. CA was further developed in Europe in the seventies when several projects on CA were actually carriedout (van Els et al 1984). Although it is said that CA project rarely meet their objectives, Ithink that CA is still an indispensable and significant part in the field of appliedlinguistics for a very simple and obvious reason that human languages are different (inspite of the theoretical claim that there is the universality of all languages whose