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INTERLANGUAGE. Larry Selinker. Published Online: | DOI: https:// · total citations on Dimensions. Interlanguage theory is generally credited to Larry Selinker, an American professor of applied linguistics, whose article “Interlanguage”. An account of the development of research and thinking in the field of learner language. Draws on wide-ranging research into contrastive analysis, bilingualism.

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An interlanguage is an idiolect that has been developed by a learner of a second language or L2 which preserves some features of their first language or L1and can also overgeneralize some L2 writing and speaking rules. These two interlznguage of an interlanguage result in the system’s unique linguistic organization.

Rediscovering Interlanguage – Larry Selinker – Google Books

An interlanguage is idiosyncratically based on the learners’ experiences with the L2. It can ” fossilize “, or cease developing, in any of its developmental stages. The interlanguage rules are claimed to be shaped by several factors, including L1-transfer, previous learning strategies, strategies of L2 acquisition i.

Interlanguage is based on the theory that there is a dormant psychological framework in the human brain that is activated when one attempts to learn a second language. Interlanguage theory interrlanguage often credited to Larry Selinkerwho coined the terms “interlanguage” and “fossilization.

Selinker noted that in a given situation, the utterances produced by a learner are different from those native speakers would produce had ladry attempted to convey the same meaning. This comparison suggests the existence of a separate linguistic system. This system can be observed when studying the utterances of the learner who attempts to produce meaning in their L2 speech; it is not seen when that same learner performs form-focused tasks, such as oral drills in a classroom.

Interlanguage can be variable across different contexts; for example, it may be more accurate, complex and fluent in one domain than in another. To study the psychological processes involved one can compare the interlanguage utterances of the learner with two things:. It is possible to apply an interlanguage perspective to a learner’s underlying knowledge of the target language sound system interlanguage phonologygrammar morphology and syntaxlarfy lexiconand language-use norms found among learners interlanguage pragmatics.

By describing the ways in which learner language conforms to universal linguistic norms, interlanguage research has contributed greatly to our understanding of linguistic universals in second-language acquisition. Before the interlanguage hypothesis rose to prominence, the sepinker theory of second-language L2 development was contrastive analysis.

This theory assumed that learners’ errors were caused by the difference between their L1 and L2. This approach was deficit-focused, in selinkrr sense that speech errors were thought to arise randomly and should be corrected. Robert Lado held that the claims of contrastive analysis should be viewed as hypothetical unless and until they were based on systematic analyses of learner speech data.

The idea that niterlanguage learners’ linguistic systems were different from both their L1 and L2 was developed independently at around the same time by several different researchers. Interlanguage is claimed to be a language in its own right. Learner language varies much more than native-speaker language.

Selinker noted that in a given situation the utterances produced by seliker learner are different from those native speakers would produce had they attempted to convey the same meaning. Interlanguage can be observed to be variable across different contexts. For example, it may be more accurate, complex and fluent in one discourse domain interlanguagr in another.

Spontaneous conversation is more likely to involve the use of interlanguage. A learner may produce a target-like variant e. Scholars from different traditions have taken opposing views on the importance of this phenomenon. Those who bring se,inker Chomskyan perspective to second-language acquisition typically regard variability as nothing more than performance errors, and not worthy of systematic inquiry. On the other hand, those who approach it from a sociolinguistic or psycholinguistic orientation view variability as an inherent feature of the learner’s interlanguage.


In these approaches, a learner’s preference for one linguistic variant over another can depend on social contextual variables such as the status or role larrt the person the learner is speaking to. Variability in learner language distinguishes between “free variation”, which has not been shown to be interlangage related to accompanying linguistic or social features, and “systematic variation”, which has.

Free variation in the use of a language feature is usually taken as a sign that it has not been fully acquired. The learner is still trying to figure out what rules govern the use larrh alternate lxrry. This type of variability seems to be most common among beginning learners, and may be entirely absent among the more advanced.

Systematic variation is brought about by changes in the linguistic, psychological, and social context.

Linguistic factors are usually extremely local. For example, in earlier stages of acquisition, a learner will often display systematic constraints on their ability to use the correct tense. But they will show higher accuracy when the word following the tensed word begins with a nonconsonant e. Social factors may include a change in register or the familiarity of interlocutors. In accordance with communication accommodation theorylearners may adapt their speech to either converge with, or diverge from, their interlocutor’s usage.

For example, they may deliberately choose interlxnguage address a non-target form like “me no” to an English teacher in order to assert identity with a non-mainstream ethnic group.

International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching

The most important psychological factor is usually regarded as attention to form, which is related to planning time.

The more time that learners have to plan, the more target-like their production may be. Thus, literate learners may produce much more target-like forms in a writing task for which they have 30 minutes to plan, than in conversation where they must produce language with almost no planning at all. The impact of alphabetic literacy level on an L2 learner’s ability to pay attention to form is as yet unclear. Affective factors also play an important role in systematic variation.

For example, learners in a stressful situation such as a formal exam may produce fewer target-like forms than they would in a comfortable setting. This clearly interacts with social factors, and attitudes toward the interlocutor and topic also play important roles.

Individuals learning a second language may not always hear spoken L2 words as separate units. The blended words are called “prefabricated patterns” or “chunks”.

These chunks are often not immediately obvious to the learner or anyone that listens to them speak, but may be noticed as the learner’s L2 system becomes more developed and they use the chunk in a context where it does not apply. Sekinker example, if an English learner hears sentences beginning with “do you”, they may associate it with being an indicator of a question but not as two separate words.

To them, the word is “doyou”. They may happen to say “What do you doing? When learners experience significant restructuring in their L2 systems, they sometimes show a U-shaped learning pattern. For instance, a group of English language learners moved, over time, from accurate usage of the “-ing” present progressive morpheme, to incorrectly omitting it, and finally, back to correct usage.

As their knowledge of tense in English expanded, this disrupted their correct usage of the morpheme. They eventually returned to correct usage when they gained interlanvuage understanding of the tense rules in English. These data provide evidence that the learners were initially producing output based on rote memory of individual words containing the present progressive “-ing” morpheme.


However, in the second stage their systems sflinker the rule that they should use the bare infinitive form to express present action, without a separate rule for the use of “-ing”. Finally, they learned the rule for appropriate use of “-ing”. The “chunking” method enables a learner to practice speaking their L2 before they correctly break the chunk up in to its component parts.

According to interlanguage theory, this seeming progression and regression of language learning is an important and positive manifestation of the learner’s developing understanding of the grammar of the target language. An interlanguage can fossilize, or cease developing, in any sdlinker its developmental larru. Fossilization is the process of ‘freezing’ of the transition between the L1 and L2, and is regarded as the final stage of interlanguage development.

It can occur even in motivated learners who are continuously exposed to their L2 or have adequate learning support. Fossilization occurs often in adult language learners. It can also occur when a learner succeeds in conveying messages with their current L2 knowledge. The learner fossilizes the form instead of correcting it.

Research on universal grammar UG has had a significant effect on second-language acquisition SLA theory.

In particular, scholarship in the interlanguage tradition has sought to show that learner languages conform to UG at all stages of development. An example of a UG constraint is an ” island constraint ,” where the wh -phrase in a question has a finite number of possible positions. Island constraints are based on the concept that there are certain syntactical domains within a sentence that act as phrase boundaries. It is theorized that the same constraints that act on a native UG are also often present in an interlanguage UG.

The concept of interlanguage is closely related to other types of language, especially creoles and pidgins. Each of these languages zelinker its own grammar and phonology. The difference is mostly one of variability, as a learner’s interlanguage is spoken only by the learner and changes frequently as they become more proficient in the language. In contrast, creoles and pidgins are generally the product of groups of people in selnker with another language, and therefore may be more stable.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Interlanguage disambiguation. This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. Learn how and when to remove these template messages.

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May Learn how and when to remove this template message. Key Concepts in Second Language Acquisition. International Review of Applied Linguistics. The concise encyclopedia of applied linguistics. Old Occam whips out his razor”. In Bayley, R; Lucas, C. Theory, methods, interlangugae applications. In Eisenstein, Miriam R. Empirical studies in second-language variation.

Literacy and second language oracy.