Avoiding transfer errors

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AVOIDING TRANSFER ERRORS IN THE WRITING DEVELOPMENT


VANESSA CELIS

INTRODUCTION
Learning a foreign language is essential in all the fields of knowledge, because language is related to cultural, social and economic changes in both Colombia and overseas. Nothing is as important as knowing how to communicate in any language. Unfortunately, the way of learning our first language interfereswith the acquisition of another language because of “learners apply the first language rules and structures which are different from the second language system.” (Brown, 2000: 105).
In that way, transfer errors in writing is the focus of our research project since it relates to the development of students’ writing skill, provided that “One of the biggest problems in teaching writing is that thestudents think in their own language and then try to translate them word by word into English” (Harold B. Allen, 1965: 201). For instance, they sometimes transfer linguistic structures from the native language like possession, gender, word order, forms, questions, and negations in order to express ideas, thoughts and feelings.
In that sense, we have to take into account student´s perceptions aboutthe reasons that lead them to make transfer errors. Besides, we need to gather some information using field notes, a questionnaire and a survey, in order to identify the relationship between transfers errors and writing development.
The following pages include the Introduction, the rationale, the research question, the research objectives, the literature review and some components of theresearch design such as population and setting.
RATIONALE
In the learning process of a Foreign or Second Language, we cannot overlook the importance of learners´ errors, in this case, transfer errors, since this aspect reflects how learners are acquiring and learning the Target language. Transfer error is a phenomenon that involves second or foreign Language learners around the world, due to thesekinds of errors have taken place in different learning situations such as: Italian, German or French students learning English in a non-English speaking countries and vice versa.
Observing the national context, we have noticed that English learners make transfer errors frequently and this fact occurs not only in high school contexts, but also in the university contexts and even this aspect is stillevident in teachers´ performance. For example, in our process of learning a foreign language, when we were at the school, we always thought in Spanish in order to write any sentence in English. Now, in the university, this habit still continues when we write any paper in English. Therefore, it is necessary to identify the role of transfer errors in the teaching and learning process of a ForeignLanguage. Due to the fact that, transfer errors do not allow foreign language learners to develop an efficient grammatical competence in the writing skill.
At the local scope, one of the realities found through a diagnosis process developed in the Colombo Británico School is that seventh grade’s students show some drawbacks in their Foreign Language writing focused on transfer errors. Indeed, theytransfer the native grammatical rules in the foreign language, a clear evidence of these errors was sentences like “I listen music rok” or “I like English much.” These sentences written by students on the board show how they modify English language structure by omitting some words that are not common in their native language. Thereby, this research project intends to describe the relationshipbetween transfer errors and English learners writing development. Thus, foreign language students can reflect about the differences among two languages and realize that each language has its own structure and rules.
RESEARCH QUESTION
According to the diagnosis that we have made in the Colombo Britanico School, it is evident that the students, in this case, seventh grade students make transfer...
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