28/04/2009; 12/05/2009 Contrastive Analysis; Error Analysis

28/04/2009; 12/05/2009 Contrastive Analysis; Error Analysis


by Anna Kowynia

Contrastive analysis

A set of procedures for comparing and contrasting the linguistic systems of two languages in order to identify their structural similarities and differences

According to CAH, L2 errors = differences between the learner’s L1 and L2.

-strong CAH (all errors can be predicted)

-weak CAH (differences can be used just to identify some of the errors that might occur) (Ellis 1997: 698)

Based on the theoretical assumptions of behaviourism

reasonable to focus on the differences between native and target language

When you recognize the differences between your native language and the target language, you are able to overcome the linguistic habits of your native language that interfere with the habits of the target language.

CA by Lado (1957)

„the student who comes into contact with a foreign language will find some features of it quite easy and others extremely difficult. Those elements that are similar to his native language will be simple for him, and those elements that are different will be difficult” (Lado 1957: 2)

Procedures used in CA

1) description – formal grammar used to explicitly describe two lgs in question

2) selection – linguistic forms, items, rules, subjective

3) contrast – mapping of one linguistic system onto another

4) prediction – of difficulty or error on he basis of the first three procedures

Hierarchy of diffculty

Stockwell, Bowen and Martin (1965)

• By hierarchy of difficulty a teacher can predict what will be diffcult for the learner

• 8 degrees of difficulty based on the notion of transfer (+, -, 0)

• 6 categories of difficulty (in ascending order of difficulty)

6 categories of difficulty

• Level ‘0’ – no difference present, positive transfer

• Level 1 – coalescence - 2→1, eg. Learn&teach→aprrendre

• Level 2 – underdifferentiation- 1→Ø an item in the native lg is absent in the target lg, English learners of Spanish: no use of ‘do’ as a tense carrier

• Level 3 – reinterpretation – an item that exists in the native lg is given a new shape or distribution in L2, e.g. a determiner ‘A’ e.g. He is a philosopher, in Spanish determiners are optional e.g. Él es (un) filosofo.

• Level 4 – overdifferentiation – a new item must be learned, Polish: Czytam. English: I read.

• Level 5- split; 1→2; pożyczać- borrow & lend

• Using the hierarchy of difficulty and the procedures for contrastive analysis one can make predictions about difficulties learners will encounter

Error Analysis

• EA involves a set of procedures for identifying, describing and explaining errors in learner language

• Long history overall

• In investigation of a learner lg EA has been used since the 1960’s

• EA involves a set of procedures for identifying, describing and explaining errors in learner language

• Long history overall

• In investigation of a learner lg EA has been used since the 1960’s

• CA was supplanted by EA.

• CA looked only at the learner’s L1 and TL, EA provided a methodology for investigating learner lg

• Thus, EA is a good starting point for the study of learner lg and L2 acquisition

• EA recognised as part of applied linguistics in the 1970’s

• Corder (1967) noted that errors could be significant in three ways:

• 1)They provide the teacher with how much the learner had learnt

• 2)They provide the researcher with evidence of how lg was learnt

• 3)They serve as devices by which the learner discovered the rules of the language

Steps in EA research

• Collection of a sample of learner language

• Identification of errors

• Description of errors

• Explanation of errors

• Evaluation of errors

Corder: three types of errors

• Presystematic

• Systematic

• Postsytsematic

• 1) learner is unaware of the particular rule in a TL. Random.

• 2)learner has discovered a rule but it is a wrong one

• 3)learner knows the correct TL rule but uses it inconsistently (eg.makes a mistake)

They occur when:

• 1) learner cannot give any account of why a particular form is chosen

• 2) unable to correct errors but can explain the mistaken rule used

• 3) can explain the correct TL rule

• Intralingual errors ‘reflect the general characteristics of rule learning’

• INTRALINGUAL errors subdivision:

• Overgeneralization (He sings *He can sings)

• Ignorance of rule restrictions (*he made me to rest, extension of: He wanted/asked me to go)

• Incomplete application of rules – structure not flly developed *You like to sing?

• False concept hypothesised *One day it was happened – marker of past tense

Limitations of EA

• Fails to provide a complete picture of learner language

• Cross-sectional (no studies at different stages of development)

• EA not effective in helping to understand how learners develop a knowledge of an L2 over time

• Avoidance of difficult structures, EA is thus limited

• CAH viewed SLA as acquisition of items that are different from the L1

• 1960’s turning point

• L2 learners were looked on as „intelligent and creative beings proceeding through logical, systematic stages of acquisition, creatively acting upon their linguistic environment as their encounter its forms and functions in meaningful contexts” (Brown 1987: 168)

• Learning another lg is gradual, it is a process of hypothesis testing and of trials and errors at the end of which learners establish a system that resembles the system used by the native speakers of the language

• Different names were given to this learners’ system of language

• Interlanguage (Selinker 1972) refers to separateness of the second language learner’s systwm

• Intermediate between L1 and TL

• A system which ‘is based upon the best attempt of learners to provide order and structure to the linguistic stimuli surrounding them’ (Brown 1986: 169)

• Selinker (1972) identifies five principal cognitive processes responsible for L2 acquisition:

• 1) Language transfer (some but not all items, rules, subsystems)

• 2) Transfer of training (some elements of interlanguage may derive from the way in which the learners were taught)

• 3)strategies of SLL

• 4) strategies of second language communication

• 5) overgeneralization of the target language material

• Three major theoretical issues in interlanguage analysis:

• Fossilization,

• Krashen’s Input Theory,

• pidginization