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西松論談 A Study of L1 Interference in Chinese Senior High Students’ English Writing 第四期 黃加明 1 Introduction In this term paper, the author focuses on the learner errors resulting from L1(Chinese) interference in written production of L2(English). The author identifies some of the errors having to do with L1 interference and analyzes their possible causes in a hope to improve English writing instruction. 2 Review of Literature 2.1 Learner Language vs. L1 Interference. Ellis (1997) suggested that le
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   西松論談 第四期 A Study of L1 Interferencein Chinese Senior High Students’ English Writing 黃加明   1 Introduction In this term paper, the author focuses on the learner errors resulting from L1(Chinese)interference in written production of L2(English). The author identifies some of the errorshaving to do with L1 interference and analyzes their possible causes in a hope to improveEnglish writing instruction. 2 Review of Literature2.1 Learner Language vs. L1 Interference. Ellis (1997) suggested that learner language serve as a useful way to investigate L2acquisition. Learner language, linguistically speaking, refers to “the language thatlearner produce when they are called on to use an L2 in speech or writing.” Learnerlanguage may consist of errors, reflecting the gaps in a learner’s knowledge. Errorsare systematic and predictable, resulting in the construction of some kind of rule,albeit a rule different from that of the target language. Some error are common in thespeech of all L2 learners, such as errors of omission and over generalization; othererrors, on the other hand, result from learners’ attempt to make use of their L1knowledge. These kinds of errors are called transfer errors. 2.2 Interlanguage vs. L1 Interference Interlanguage, a term first coined by the American linguist, Larry Selinker, is anintermediate grammar, or linguistic system created by learners acquiring an L2.Interlanguage forms can be view as learner’s hypotheses about the L2 and arebelieved to be systematic and rule-governed (Park & Riley, 2000; Hatch, 1983).- - 1   西松論談 第四期 Learners’ L1, or the first language, may influence the formation of interlanguage(Larsen-Freeman, Diane & Michael H. Long, 1991). 2.3 L1 Interference in Second Language Learning It is maintained that L1 interference is one of the several sources of errorslearners make (Krashen, Stephen, 1988). Of the research findings, first languageknowledge in complex word order and in word-for-word translation of phrases maylead to errors of the L2 learners. Besides, morphological errors, such as omission of plurals on nouns, lack of subject-verb agreement, adjective-noun agreement mayoccur, but not through the influence of the first language (Duškova, 1969). Schachterand Rutherford (1979) found that ESL subject might be inclined to “overproduce” L2sentence to suit a discourse function resulting from their first language (Krashen,1988).L1, or the native language, can have negative effects on the L2 acquisition. Forone thing, that language share similar features does not account for learners’information in learning a foreign language (Bley-Broman, Robert, 1989). There arefeatures, for instances, that are inconsistent with language universals 1 . Thus,languages with marked universals are more difficult for L2 acquisition than thosewith unmarked universals (Park & Riley, 2000). For the other, foreign languagelearner may misinterpret L2 acquisition because they “know to much” about their L1(Bley-Broman, 1989). That is to say, they may presuppose that certain features of thenative language are universal. As a result, their L2 production may consists of error,presumably resulting from their L1 knowledge. 1 Language universals refer to linguistic categories and rules that almost all human languages have in common.(Park & Riley, 2000) - - 2   西松論談 第四期 3 Error Analyses of L1 Interference3.1 Source of study. The author collected learner errors concerning L1 interference from writtenassignments of twenty-three students on the topic of “Autobiography.” Throughoutthe identification and analysis of learner errors, the author may try to avoid L1interference in teaching students English writing. 3.2 Examples of Errors and Error Analyses3.2.1 The Missing Verb: BE In English, the verb “be” is the most common verb form used in many differentways. It is used as an auxiliary, as a main verb, as a linking verb; it is used toindicate someone’s identity, age and cost; it is used with prepositional phrases,with “to”-infinitive, in questions and negative clauses, in continuous tenses,etc. 2 In Chinese, however, there seems to be no equivalent usage to encompassall of the above-mentioned function. Theoretically speaking, Chinese is lessmarked with the sense of “be.” As a result, the author hypothesize that Chinesestudents learning English as the second, or foreign, language are apt to disregardthe English verb be in speech or written production. The following excerptsfrom students’ writing assignments justify the author’s hypothesis.* “When I in a bad mood [. . .].”* “So I full of confidence in myself.”* “[. . .], I making a decision is I have to go to college.”* “If you more fast then the others, [. . .].”* “I born in a comparatively good living [. . .].”* “I think when I in the calm environment I was lost reflection.”* “I born and grow up in Tainan [. . .].”* “I interest in [. . .].” Suggestion: I am interested in [. . .],* “I born in Taipei.” Suggestion: I was born in Taipei.* “This year I will in senior high school third year.”* “I born in 1985 [. . .].” 2 See Collins Cobuild English Usage. Def. “Be”. pp. 86-88. - - 3   西松論談 第四期 * “And somebody also said I very holy, [. . .].”* “Because it my interest, [. . .].”* “I borned in a [. . .].”* “[. . .], you have to earnest and down to earth, [. . .].”* “Because I proud of the Chinese Taipei team forever.” 3.2.2 The Misuse Of The Conjunction “ALTHOUGH” The English conjunction although introduce a subordinate clause in a sentence. 3  In accordance with Chinese students’ errors, such as *Although I usually verybusy in the school, but I am very happy. and *Although, I did not well in mylessons, but, after class, I made the best use of time to study and reviewed what I learned. , the author found that students might confuse the usage of the Englishconjunction “although” with the Chinese words   雖然 and  但是 . With literaltranslation into Chinese, the above-mentioned sample sentences are acceptable,so that we can guess that these errors result from L1 interference. 3.2.3 Word-Order Errors Some of the learner errors are apparently derived from Chinese thinking flow.That is to say, students may literally translate their Chinese sentence pattern intoword-by-word English sentences, which looks odd to native speakers of English.The sample sentences are cited as follows:* “I enter to college after I will strive to learn extracurricular knowledge andadd my actual strength to subject.”* “[. . .], so my environment is very strict [. . .].”* “I find a subject that can be like by me.”* “The family members probably 20 people, [. . .].”* “Then separate live in every floor.”* “Therefore I receive some pleasure.”* “However I choose this class is hope I can get [. . . ].”* “I in junior high school my grade is so so.”* “Although it was a little bad in the beginning.”* “Every activity in school I always active to participate.”* “There is very happy every day, [. . .].”* “I think I’ll too collect about some tourism’s newspaper cutting.” 3 See Collins Cobuild English Usage. Def. “Although”. pp. 49-50. - - 4
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