Studies on Transfer in Second Language Acquisition
Guangxi Normal University, Guilin, 541004, China
Abstract: Transfer is a pervasive term and this has led to diverse interpretations and research practices of it. This paper reviewed the related literature on transfer studies in second language acquisition, linguistic studies and non-linguistic. It also made a survey about approaches in transfer studies, native speakers’ attitudes toward transfer, and transfers made by Chinese learners of English. It was argued that transfer research evolved from a linguistic-to- non-linguistic path, and there is a necessity in the current trend to shift from the former to the latter. Keywords: transfer, linguistic transfer, pragmatic transfer, second language acquisition
1. Defining transfer
Transfer, derived from the Latin word “transferre”, means “to carry”, “to bear” or “to print, impress or otherwise copy (as a drawing or engraved design) from one surface to another”(Webster’s Third New World International Dictionary, 1986). So to speak, when we say “technology transfer”, we mean the transfer or carry-over of technology from one owner to another. Transfer can also mean “the carry-over or generalization of learned responses from one type of situation to another”, especially “the application in one field of study or effort of knowledge, skill, power, or ability acquired in another” (Webster’s Third New World International Dictionary, 1986). The use of “transfer” in “linguistic transfer” is such an example. By linguistic transfer, we mean what the learners carry over to or generalize in their knowledge about their native language (NL) to help them learn to use a target language (TL). Here transfer does not indicate whether what is carried over is bad or good. This meaning from the dictionary shows that transfer is a neutral word in origin and nature. Linguistics concerns, in overall, with the static structures within a language system. Viewed from the TL grammatical rules, certain NL-based linguistic transfers are found to coincide with linguistic errors. In this way, NL-based linguistic transfers are divided into two broad types, positive and negative. Those NL-based uses that do not lead to linguistic errors are labeled as positive transfer, whereas those that lead to errors, negative transfer. In second language classroom teaching, a positive linguistic transfer is generally not attacked, but a negative linguistic transfer, almost to all instructors, is definitely not recommended for the learners, since it is erroneous. Pragmatics, a branch of linguistics which studies how people interpret and produce meaning in a specific context (Leech, 1983; Liu, 2000), also claims an interest in transfer. For pragmaticians, they are interested in finding out in what way NL-based transfers influence the learners in comprehending and performing a speech act in a TL and whether such transfers are appropriate in the context. Apparently, pragmatics diverges from linguistics in interpreting transfer in that it has maintained the neutral sense or natural attribute of transfer. Since pragmatics aims at exploring the appropriateness of speech that is free from right-wrong linguistic grammar, everything under pragmatic investigation is correct, grammatically speaking. In literature to date, in pragmatics-oriented studies of transfers, interests and endeavors have been attached to the finding out of the differences or deviations between these divergent forms from the TL and whether these deviant forms are appropriate, from the angle of TL speakers. An example to illustrate this point is the Japanese learners’ overuse of the expression “I am sorry” in conversations. It was reported that there are many cases in which Japanese students used this expression which is actually not needed in English, since to English speakers, the expression is used only for an apology. This indicates the learners fall back on the...
References: Ajiboye, T.. Learner’s error in French: aspects of Nigerian evidence [J]., In ITL: 101-1-2, 1993:23-39.
Alim El-Sayed. Variation of today’s English: Implicatures for teaching EFL in the Arabs world [J]. In ITL: 76, 1987: 63-96.
Bansal, R.K.. The intelligibility of Indian English [D]. Unpublished Ph.D dissertation, University of London, 1966.
Beebe, L.M., Takahashi, T., & Uliss-Weltz, R.. Pragmatic transfer in ESL refusals [C]. In Scarcella, R. C., Andersen, E., & Krashen, S. C., (eds.). Developing Communicative Competence in a Second Language [A]. New York: Newbury House, 1990:55-73.
Bergman, M., & Kasper, G.. Perception and Performance in Native and Nonnative Apology [C]. In G. Kasper & S. Blum-Kulka (eds.). Interlanguage Pragmatics [A]. Oxford: OUP, 1993:82-107.
Bialistock, E.. Symbolic representation and attentional control in pragmatic competence [C]. In G. Kasper & S. Blum-Kulka (eds.): Interlanguage pragmatics [A]. New York: OUP, 1993:43-59.
Bialystok, E., & Frohlich, M.. Oral communication-strategies for lexical difficulties [C]. In Interlanguage Studies Bulletin, 1980 (5): 3-10.
Blum-Kulka, S.. Learning how to say what you mean in a second language: a study of speech act performance of learners of Hebrew as a second language [J]. In Applied Linguistics 3, 1982:29~59.
Chen Feng. A Study of Linguistic Deviation by Chinese Speakers of English in Inter-Cultural Communication [D]. Unpublished MA thesis, Guangzhou Institute of Foreign Languages, 1992.
Clyne, M., Giannicos, C., & Neil, D.
Cohen, A.D.. Verbal reports as a source of insight into second-language learner strategies [J]. In Applied Language Learner, 7, 1996 (1).
Connor, Ulla, & McCagg, P.. Cross-cultural differences and perceived quality in written paraphrase of English expository prose [J]. In Applied Linguistics 4, 1983 (3).
Corder, P.. Error Analysis and Interlanguag [M]. Oxford: CUP, 1981.
Corrales, O., & Call, M.E.
Deng Yanchang & Liu Runqing. Language and Culture [M]. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 1989.
Deng Yanchang & Liu Runqing. Language and Culture [M]. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 1991.
Dickerson, C.J.. The learner’s language as a system of variable rules [J]. In TESOL Quarterly, Vol. 9, 1975 (4):401-407.
Duan Kaicheng. On Illocutionary Force—A Contrastive Study of English and Chinese [D]. Unpublished MA thesis of Guangzhou Institute of Foreign Languages, Guangzhou, 1987.
Grotjahn, R.. On the use of quantitative methods in the study of interlanguage [J]. In Applied linguistics, Vol.4, 1983 (3).
Hakuta, K.. Prefabricated patterns and the emergence of structure in second language acquisition [J]. In Language Learning 24, 1974 (2): 287-297.
Hammerly, H.. Fluency and accuracy [M]. Multilingual Matters Ltd., 1991.
Ho Meilian. Variability of BE realization in the Singaporean English speech continuum [J]. In ITL: 101-102, 1993, 1993:141-165.
House, J., & Blum-Kulka, S.. Interlingual and intercultural communication: Discourse on cognition in translation and second language acquisition studies [M]. Gunter Narr Verlag, 1986.
Jain, M. P.. Error analysis: source, cause and significance [C]. In Richards, J. (ed.) [A]. 1974:189.
James, C.. Linguist measures for error gravity [J]. In AVLA Journal, Vol. 12, 1974 (1):3-9.
Kachru, B. B. (ed.). The Other Tongue [A], Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982.
Kasper, G.. Pragmatische Aspecte in der interinsprache [M]. Tubinger: Narr., 1981
Kasper, G.. Interlanguage Pragmatics [C]. In J. Verschueren, Jan-Ola Östman & Jan Blommaert (eds.): Handbook of Pragmatics 1995 [A]. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publ. Co, 1995:1-17.
Kellerman, E., & Sharwood Smith, M.. Cross-linguistic influence in second language acquisition [M]. Oxford: Pergamon, 1986.
Kellerman, E.. Towards the characterization of the strategy of transfer in second language learning [J]. In Interlanguage Studies Bulletin, 1977 (1):58-146.
Krashen, S. & Scarcella, R.. On routines and patterns in language acquisition and performance [J]. In Language Learning 9, 1978(4):409-419.
Lado, R.. Linguistics across culture [M]. Ann Arbor, MI: the University of Michigan Press, 1960.
Larsen-Freeman, D.. The acquisition of grammatical morphemes by adult ESL students [J]. In TESOL Quarterly 9, 1975(4):409-419.
Leech, G.. Principles of Pragmatics [M]. London: Longman, 1983.
Levenston, E.A., (1971): “Overindulgence and under-representation—aspects of mother tongue interference”, in
Maley, A.. The sad fate of good intentions [C]. In Hu Wenzhong (ed.): Intercultural Communication and What It Means to Us [A]. Shanghai Translation Press, 1988:63-71.
McGurn, J.. Comparing languages [M]. Cambridge: CUP, 1991.
Meara, P.. The study of lexis in interlanguage [C]. In A. Davies, C. Criper & A.P.R.Howatt (eds.). Interlanguage: Papers in honor of S. Pit Corder [A]. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University, 1984:225-235.
Nelson, C.. Intelligibility and non-native Englishes [C]. In B. Kachru (ed.) (1982): The other tongue: Introduction [A]., 1982.
Newser, W.. Approximative systems of foreign language learners [J]. In IRAL, Vol.9, 1971 (2):115-123.
Nicjel, G.. How ‘native’ can (or) should) a non-native speaker be? [J]. In ITL:67-68, 1985:141-160.
Nsakala, L.. Code-mixing as a communication strategy in the speech of Zairean students [J]. In ITL:103-104, 1994.
Nunan, D.& Michael-Long. Research Methods in Language Learningi [M]. Cambridge Language Teaching Library, 1992.
Nyhus, S.E.. Attitudes of non-native speakers of English toward the use of verbal report to elicit their reading comprehension strategies [D]. Plan B Paper, M.A. in English as a second language. Minneaplis, MN: University of Minnesota, 1994.
Oatey, H., S.. Chinese and western interpersonal relationships [C]. In Hu Wenzhong (ed.): Intercultural Communication and What It Means to Us [M]. Shanghai Translation Press, 1988:42-62.
Olshtain, E.. Sociocultural competence and language transfer: the case of apology [C]. In Gass, S., & Selinker, L., (eds.)(1983): Language Transfer in language Learning [A]. Rowley, MA: Newbury House, 1983:232~51.
Omoniyi, T.. English and the other tongue in official communicative interaction in Nigeria [J]. In ITL:103-104, 1994:57-75.
Ouyang, F.. Some typical cultural mistakes made by Chinese learners of English [C]. In Hu Wenzhong (ed.) Intercultural Communication and What It Means to Us [A]. Shanghai: Shanghai Translation Press, 1988:31-41.
Platt, J., & Weber, H.. English in Singapore and Malaysia: status, features and function [M]. Kuala Lumpur: OUP, 1980.
Politzer, R.L.. Errors of English speakers of German as perceived and evaluated by German natives [J]. In Modern Language Journal 62, 1978:253-261.
Qin Xiubai. EFL learning and culture acquisition [C]. In Hu Wenzhong (ed.). [A]. Shanghai: Shanghai Translation Press, 1988.
Richards, J. & Gloria P. Sampson. The study of learner language [J]. In Richards, J.(ed.). [A]. 1974:3-18.
Richards, J. & Sukiwiwat, M.. Language transfer and conversational competence [J]. In Applied Linguistics Vol. 4, 1983 (3):113-125.
Richards, J., & Sampson, G.
Richards, J.. Error analysis and second language strategies [J]. In Language Science, Vol.17, 1971:12-22.
Richards, J.. Error Analysis: perspectives on second language acquisition [A]. London: Longman, 1974.
Schmidt, R.. Consciousness, learning and interlanguage pragmatics [C]. In G. Kasper & S. Blum-Kulka (eds.). Interlanguage pragmatics [A]. Cambridge: CUP, 1993.
Selinker, L. Language transfer [J]. In General Linguistics, Vol.9, 1969 (2):67-92.
Selinker, L.. Interlanguage [C]. In J. Richards (ed.). [A]. 1974.
Sharwood-Smith, M.. Cross-linguistic aspects of second language acquisition [J]. In Applied Linguistics, Vol.4, 1983 (3).
Skehan, P.. Individual differences in second-language learning [M]. London: Edward Arnold, 1989.
Stanlaw, J.. English in Japanese communicative strategies [C]. In B. Kachru (ed.). The other tongue: Introduction [A]. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1982.
Swan, M., & Smith, B. (ed.). Learner English: a teacher’s guide to interference and other problems [A]. Cambridge: CUP, 1987.
Takahashi, S.. Transferability of indirect request strategies [C]. In University Working of Hawaii Working Paper in ESL 11 [A], 1992 (1):69-124.
Takahashi, S.. Pragmatic Transferability [J]. In Studies in Second Language Acquisition 18, 1996 (2):189-223.
Takahashi, T., & Beebe, L. M.. The development of pragmatic competence by Japanese learners of English [J]. In JALT Journals 8, 1987:131-55.
Takahashi, T., & Beebe, L. M.. Cross-linguistic influence in the speech act of correction [C]. In Kasper, G., & Blum-Kulka, S., (eds.). Interlanguage Pragmatics [A]. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Takahashi, T., & Beebe, M. L.. Cross-linguistic influence in the speech act of correction [C]. In Kasper, G., & Blum-Kulka, S. (eds.). Interlanguage Pragmatics [A]. Oxford: OUP, 1993:138-158.
Tarone, E.. Some influences on interlanguage phonology [J]. In Working Papers in Bilingualism, 8, 1976:87-111.
Tarone, E.. Conscious communication strategies in interlanguage [C]. In H.D Brown, C.A.Yorio, & R.C. Crymco (eds.). On TESOL ’77 [A]. Washington, D.C.: TESOL, 1977:194-203.
Tarone, E.. The phonology of interlanguage [C]. In J. C. Richards (ed.). Understanding second and foreign language learning: Issues and approach [A]. Rowley, MA: Newbury House Publishers, Inc, 1978:15-33.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document