Marissa Leis, graduate TESOL student at Touro College on Cross-linguistic Influences

Many experts on student-centered online learning agree that the discussion board is the place where some of the most important learning can happen. Robust Discussion Board contributions not only show an engagement with the material read but also analysis and reflection. This requires thoughtfully crafted questions by facilitators for candidates to respond to.

Many experts on student-centered online learning agree that the discussion board is the place where some of the most important learning can happen. Robust Discussion Board contributions not only show an engagement with the material read but also analysis and reflection. This requires thoughtfully crafted questions by facilitators for candidates to respond to.

Marissa Leis is a graduate student at the TESOL program at Touro College. “My goal is to continue my education to get new strategies to better assist my students in a forever changing world.”

Understanding Second Language Acquisition by Lourdes Ortega – Class Discussion for Chapter 3: Cross-linguistic Influences

From reading Ortega and thinking about your own experience/observations as a teacher and a learner, how can an L1 negatively influence an L2 (e.g., L1 Mandarin Chinese and L2 English)? What about the other way around (e.g., L1 English and L2 Mandarin Chinese)? Are there any interesting asymmetries? (The Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis would predict reciprocal influences.) In your written response, please choose two languages to exemplify your discussion.

A way in which Mandarin Chinese can negatively influence English would be in writing.  In Chinese, there are different characters used that can sometimes represent more than one letter which is different from how we write in English.

From reading Ortega and thinking about your own experience/observations as a teacher and a learner, how does L1 positively influence L2 (e.g., L1 Arabic and L2 English)? What about the other way around (e.g., L1 English and L2 Arabic)? Are there any interesting asymmetries? (Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis would predict reciprocal influences.) In your written response, please choose two languages to exemplify your discussion.

From my experience, L1 has positively influenced L2 in the sense that both languages require a noun and a verb.  This basic knowledge of sentence structure is beneficial when learning a new language because it gives you a simple template to create sentences.  This, depends on the language.  I can only speak for learning Italian.  I know that other languages have different sentence structures.

The text explains the differences between learning pronoun placements in French and English.  Someone learning English rarely shows difficulty learning this placement however it is the opposite when learning French if you are a native English speaker.  “By contrast, for L1 English learners of French, the learning of what is essentially the same difference but in the opposite direction poses much more difficulty, and the error Je vois les is indeed attested.” (Ortega 32)  The reason for this is in fact similarities of the two languages that causes the confusion.  Since the languages are similar, this leads to misconceptions.

What other issues, such as language universals, complicate crosslinguistic influence? And how is it that sometimes, even if negative transfer occurs, it does not result in ungrammaticality? Please give examples to support your claims.

When a language is similar in the way the words are arranged, this can cause confusion and misconceptions which leads to a hindrance in learning the language.  Language universals can also complicate language acquisition.  They can also lead to new learnings about L1.  “There are also attested occasions where the benefits accrue from rather abstract similarities, as when a grammatical category in the L1 sheds light on a different grammatical category in the L2, thus facilitating the discovery and learning of the new category.” (Ortega 43)  If a student is learning about grammatical likeness in L1 and L2, this can result in the student learning more about their native language and the rules.

Even if a negative transfer occurs, this does not always result in ungrammaticality because students sometimes remember the sentence structures.  If they are pronouncing a word incorrectly, it does not affect the grammar of the sentence.

How can understanding these phenomena better inform our understanding of cross-linguistic influence? Please give examples to support your claims.

Understanding these phenomenons can help me in my teaching methods.  Before reading this chapter I thought that having a language that is similar in its grammatical form will cause the language to be more easily understood and acquired.  After reading this chapter, I realized that this can actually have the opposite effect.  When instructing students, I will first become acquainted with their native language and focus on the similarities and differences.  For similar characteristics, I will point out how English is similar and the small ways in which it may be different.  I will focus my Sheltered Instruction curriculum around these issues and common misconceptions. If I know that in French the pronoun comes before the verb, then I will work on questions techniques in my lesson.  I will gear my lessons so that they revolve around these techniques.

What do you think of Michael Long’s Interaction Hypothesis? What type(s) of corrective feedback do you use the most, do you think that is the best to use? How does this affect your students?

According to Michael Long’s Interaction Hypothesis, language learners learn from comprehensible input which requires them to determine and draw meaning from interactions.  I believe that this is beneficial for language learners.  When learning something new, it is important to understand the meaning of what you are doing or saying.  This promotes a deeper understanding and will allow the learner to remember what they are learning.  A comparison of this would be when one is learning math.  If the math problem is on paper, a student may be able to do it. When the time comes for the student to generalize the information and execute it to a real-life situation, it may be more difficult.  When the student is allowed to perform the math problem a few times during a real-life situation such as measuring the perimeter of a yard to buy fencing, this will create a true and deeper understanding that the student will remember long term.  The same goes for learning language. If a student is studying vocabulary words on flash cards, they may remember the words temporarily.  If students are spoken to and are required to find out the meaning of a sentence, they will most likely have a long-lasting understanding of the information.

A way to use this with the students is to repeat a sentence in L2 and allow the student to interpret the meaning of the sentence along with the vocabulary that is used.  A method that is effective is TPR. (Total Physical Response)  This method allows students to use their whole body to act out words and phrases that create a lasting impression.  As a teacher, I can recite actions and phrases in L2 and have the students act out the action after I model it.

Work Cited:

Ortega, L. (2009). Chapter 1-3: Introduction. In Second Language Acquisition (pp. 1–50). New York, NY: Hodder Education.

Author: drcowinj

As an Assistant Professor for TESOL and Bilingual Programs at Touro College, Graduate School of Education Dr. Cowin’s focus is on the Responsibility to Touro Students (Teaching), Responsibility to the Discipline (Scholarship), Responsibility to Touro College and Community (Service). Dr. Cowin strives to inspire students to be creative and to model the love of lifelong learning by inculcating the habits and attitudes that create agile mindsets. 21st-century learning extends well beyond the classroom, and Dr. Cowin incorporates takes full advantage of online learning technologies for L2 language acquisition and current global trends in teaching English as a Second Language She represents high levels of scholarship and participates fully in the larger world of TESOL academic discipline. Ongoing research, expressed in scholarly contributions to the advancement of knowledge is demonstrated through publication, presentation and participation in academic conferences, articles in Education Update, blogging and other scholarly activities, including public performances or exhibitions at conferences and workshops such as the Plekhanov University of Economics keynote address in 2018. Of special interest to her are The Blockchain of Things and its implications for Higher Education, Current Global Trends in Teaching English; Developing Materials and Resources in Teaching English – Methodology; E-learning & Micro-Methodology in Teaching English; and E-Resources Discovery and Analysis.

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