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THE MATTER OF INTERLANGUAGE,

FOSSILIZATION AND ERROR CORRECTION


IN OUR CLASS: CAN WE FIND A WAY TO
HAVE ERROR-FREE LANGUAGE SPEAKERS?

Interlanguage

It was first coined by Larry Selinker (19691972).


It refers to the interim L2 grammar developed
by L2 learners on their attempt to master the
target language.
To put it simple, it means two things:
1.- The learners system at a single point
in time.
2.- The range of interlocking systems that
characterizes the development of
learners over time.

The interlanguage is thought to be


distinct from both the learners L1 and
from the TL.
It evolves over time as learners employ
various internal strategies to make sense
of the input and to control their own
output.
It is a separate linguistic system resulting
from the learners attempted production
of the TL norm.

For

Selinker, Interlanguage is the product of five


central processes involved in SLL:

1.- Language Transfer.- Errors from L1. They can


be from pronunciation,grammar or vocabulary.
When using native words instead of SL ones,
replacing phonemes with one from L1, calquin,etc.
2.- Transfer of Training.- These are the errors due
to the language learning process itself. These are
due to problems in the textbook, teachers
mistakes,
uncorrected
mistakes
made
by
students,etc. Once these mistakes are fossilized
in the IL they can be difficult to correct

3.Overgeneralization
of
the
target
material.- Errors result when a previously
available strategy or rule is used in new
situations where the rule does not apply. ESL
students do not add s to the third person
singular verb form in the present tense,
overgeneralizing the use of the form without-s in
the remaining persons.
4.- Strategies of SLL .- Language learning
strategies are attempts to develop competence
in the TL and may include such procedures as
the use of formal rules, rote memorization,
deliberate
rehearsal,
contextual
guessing,imitating formulaic routines, seeking
opportunities to obtain comprehensible input .

5.- Strategies of Second Language


Communication.- When students try to
negotiate meaning with native speakers in
authentic language-use situations, they
may frequently find themselves at a loss for
words due to their imperfect knowledge of
the TL. Errors that are potentially
fossilizable can result from heavy demand
that force them to use strategies like
approximation,
circumlocution,
word
coinage, translation, language switch,
mime, or else abandon their message
altogether or choose to avoid the topic.

Interlanguage
Fossilization
Stabilization
Permanent retention
It occurs if the student
is not motivated to
use
change.

Non-permanent
Change into
authentic L2

Communication Strategies

Paraphrase
- Approximation.- Using a semantic item
which the learner knows to be incorrect,
but is close to what he wants to say.
- Word coinage.- Making a new word to
communicate a desired concept.
- Circumlocution.- Describes something
that he wishes to say without directly
saying the word.

Transfer

Literal Translation.- Translates word for word


from L1.
Language Switch.- Uses the native term
without bothering to translate.
Appeal for assistance.- Asks for correct term
or structure.
Mime.Using non-verbal
strategies to
communicate desired meaning.

Avoidance
- Topic Avoidance.- It occurs when the
learner simply avoids topics which
invlove words/constructions but the
learner does not know.
- Message abandonment.- It occurs when
the learner begins to talk about
something but cannot continue due to
the lack of meaning structure or lexical
repertoire.

Some procedures for correcting


Oral work

1.- Questioning.- If he uses a word that the teacher does

not understand, the teacher may want to ask further


questions to elicit the meaning more clearly from further
contextual support.
2.-

Repetition of answer with correction (Recast).Without making an overt correction, the teacher repeats
the students response, subtly correcting the mistake.
Some will pick this up, while others may not notice.

3.-

Providing the correct answer.- The teacher should


probably use this technique for oral activities when the
time is of the essence or when several errors make an
utterance particularly incomprehensible. When doing drill
work, this type of technique seems defensible .

4.- Pinpointing.- The teacher localizes the

error without providing the correct form by


repeating the students response up to the point
at which the error is made, hesitating, and
exagerating the last word a little with a raising
intonation.

5.- Providing your own answer.- The teacher


cues the student by providing his own answer to
the question, supplying a model.

6.- Paraphrasing.- The teacher may repeat the


students answer exactly, but substitutes the
correct form or lexical item for the one used
inappropriately.

7.- Peer Correction.- The teacher can provide


students with interview questions and with cards
showing the appropriate forms of the questions
for another student in the group to use as the
activity proceeds. Students can also be
encouraged to correct one another, using an
answer key provided by the teacher.

8.- Rephrasing the question.- The teacher


rephrases the question to a fewer number of
words or a simpler format if the student fails to
understand.

9.- Explaining a key word.- The teacher may


write a difficult word on the board or act it out if
it seems to be the source of confusion or
hesitation on the part of the student.

10.- Cuing.- Instead of supplying the correct


answer, the teacher provides some options for
the incorrect or missing element, as in an oral
multiple choice.

11.- Rephrasing a question, after a formally


correct, but inappropriate response to the
original formulation.- It should be used when
the student indicates a lack of understanding of
the question but does not make a grammatical
error.

Error correction for the


Classroom

S: Tomorrow I am going to downtown.


T: You are going
S: I am going downtown.

T:
S:
T:
S:

What do you do?


Uh. (hesistates)
What is your occupation?
I am a carpenter.

T: Where did you buy your coat?


S: I uh
T: Buy, bought, have bought.
S: I bought it at JC Penny.

D T: Do you play baseball?


S: (no response)
T: Do you play baseball? (gestures)
S: Oh no, but I play soccer.

E S: I like (incomprehensible word)


T: Why do you like that?
S: I like to visit and explore caves.
T: Oh, yes Spelunking is the study of caves.

F T: Where did you catch the school bus?


S: I catched .. (hesitates)
T: I caught it on Main St.
S: I caught it near JC Penny.

G T: Do you have some records?


S: No, I dont have some records
T: Oh, you dont have any records. Do you
have
any CDs?
S: No, I dont have any CDs.

T: Where are you going for the holidays?


S: I am going next Friday.
T: All right. But where are you going?
Daytona,
Cancun, Bahamas..?
S: Oh, I am going to Acapulco.

I T: S1 asks S2 what he would like for


dessert.
S1: What would you like for desert?
S2: What would you like for dessert?
S1: What would you like for dessert?
S2: I would like apple pie for dessert.

T: How old are you?


S: Good, thank you.
T: I am twenty years old.
K

T: When are you going to Toronto?


S: I am going to there tomorrow.
T: I am going there tomorrow.

Test your knowledge

1.- Questioning
_E_
2.- Repetition of answer with correction _K_
3.- Provide the correct answer
_F_
4.- Pinpointing
_A_
5.- Providing ones own answer
_J_
6.- Paraphrasing
_G_
7.- Peer correction
_I_
8.- Rephrasing the question
_B_
9.- Explaing a key word
_D_
10.- Cuing
_C_
11.- Rephrasing a question, after a formally
_H_
correct, but inappropriate response.

References

Selinker,Larry. (2008).Second Language


Acquisition
An introductory
Course.
McLaughlin, Barry. (1987). Theories of
Second
language
Learning.
Omaggio, Alice.(1986). Teaching
Language in Context.
A
Profociency Oriented
Approach . Heinle and Heinle.
Robinett and Schachter. (1983). Second