Influence of First Language on Second Language Performance
(Overgeneralization of “NO”)
Second language learners face different aspects when it comes to learning a new language (motivation, interest, transfer, cognitive maturity, and others). It has been described that First language (L1) can be an advantage for second language learning, because learners can relate aspects thatare similar in both. But, on the other hand it can be a disadvantage, due to this previous knowledge can lead learners to make mistakes related to language function and consequently, learners may produce errors that a first language learner would not make (Lightbown and Spada 1999). In one way or another, those aspects affect their learning process, also, their knowledge about the new language(what Chomsky calls Competence), and subsequently, the way they use that language (their performance). The aim of this work is to determine the difficulties that second language students face while learning a language. Among this problems, the use of auxiliaries (or the elision of them), and how their Mother tongue (L1) interferes in their performance.
According to Cook (2003) “anylanguage is subject to enormous variation. There are differences between individuals, social groups, generations, and nations, and language is used differently in speech and writing”. That confirms that first language can influence second language acquisition, because of the difference among them. In that sense, this investigation deals with overgeneralization which is conceived as a common feature oflanguage development (Onnis, Roberts and Chaters 2003). Some people whose first language is Spanish present a usual feature which is related to negative sentences. It is affirmed that “writing tends to be well-formed and pre-organised” (Harmer 2007, p. 46), that is why at the moment of writing negative sentences which use modal auxiliaries, perfective have or other auxiliary verbs, secondlearners of English add not with no problem. But something different happens with supportive Do, since that auxiliary is only needed in specific situations (questions and negative sentences) learners whose first language is Spanish in some cases, present auxiliary elision. In Spanish there are no specific auxiliaries, so at the moment of writing negative statements people use No. Consequently thoselearners over generalize that rule with supportive do, (instead of writing I don’t have money. They write I not have money. Or instead of writing they didn’t eat. They write they not ate). It is claimed that “second language learners may need to be given some explicit information about what is not grammatical in the second language” (Lightbown and Spada 1999, p. 37), that idea is conceived in order toavoid the use of structures that are usual in their first language as equivalents in the second language.
The subjects were intermediate students who belong to English two at Universidad Simon Bolivar, campus Litoral. There were 20 students who belonged to the section, and a main characteristic was taken into account in order to choose the participants of theinvestigation, (students must not have taken the course before), it means that students who failed the subject will not be selected. Consequently, 14 students were chosen. The students were between 18 and 20 years old. All of them like the language and are interested in learning it. Besides, the students had never failed English before.
Procedures: the students will take a written test(test 1) with a list of 10 positive sentences (the sentences have supportive do). Participants will have to write the negative form of each sentence. All the verbs were taught before, as well as the rules for DO support. The test will also have a free writing section in which participants have the opportunity to express their thoughts with no regulations. The group will be given a survey in...
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