Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Morphological Analysis of English L1-Persian L2 Adult Learner' Interlanguage: From the Perspective of Sla Variation

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Morphological Analysis of English L1-Persian L2 Adult Learner' Interlanguage: From the Perspective of Sla Variation

Article excerpt

1.Introduction

The notion of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) has long been recognized by linguists interested in contrastive linguistics. It was through studies on Contrastive Analysis (CA) where errors were regarded as evidence of language transfer (Fries, 1945; Lado, 1957) while the advocates of Error Analysis (EA) initiated a shift of attitudes towards errors in the late 1960s and early 1970s, paying more attention to the underlying process of SLA rather than just the product. For instance, Corder (1967) stated that errors are evidence of the learners "built-in syllabus", which was later termed "interlanguage" by Selinker (1972), who also argued that the best data for the study of interlanguage is the learner language produced in meaningful interaction, which is different from what the learner produces in a controlled learning context. Since then, EA has been practiced as an area of second language acquisition research (Dessouky, 1990; Ellis, 2008; Lightbown and Spada, 2006), and seems to continue so as making errors is inevitable in the process of language acquisition (Mahmoud, 2011).

Literature has since attempted to explore the mental and behavioral processes language learners go through in order to better inform pedagogy (Tarone and Swierzbin, 2009). One obstacle to establishing a unique system underlying learner language is variable performance across context when assessing the same form in the IL. However, the exact causes of such variation remain to be explored (Tarone, 1989). As discussed by Tarone (1988), a number of scholars have proposed different causes for IL variation such as, linguistic context (Dickerson, 1975; Wolfram, 1985), the role of the interlocutor (Beebe, 1980), the topic (Lantolf and Khanji, 1983), social norms (Schmidt, 1977), form- functions (Huebner, 1985), and psycholinguistic factors such as form-focused attention, whether following from the Monitor model (Krashen, 1977) or from the variationist (Chameleon) model (Tarone,1985). In sum, due to the complexity of SLA, different scholars have hypothesized that multiple factors, including features of linguistic and social-psychological contexts, may influence SLA variation.

With respect to the importance given to English as an international language throughout the world, considerable research has been done on Persian L1 speakers' acquisition of English L2; however, there has been very little SLA research on English L1 speakers' acquisition of Persian L2. This area entitles more investigation to account for the need of both Persian teachers and Persian language learners.

From another perspective, Persian acquisition is in need of some investigation in terms of task-based variation. In Tarone's (1979) words, a combination of variable features should be examined to come up with a more reliable evaluation. In an attempt to fill the gap, the present study uses task-based methodology of eliciting the learner language to examine adult English speakers' acquisition of morphological features in Persian L2 as orally produced in an unrehearsed setting.

2.Literature Review

Literature informs us that considerable amount of SLA research involves English as a second language, or of other European second languages (Major, 2001, 2007). For instance, focusing on English as a foreign language, many researchers have carried out studies in an attempt to explore the difficulties encountered by speakers of Persian as a first language (L1) who are learning English as a second language (L2). In doing so, CA has been used to predict learners' transfer of linguistic patterns from L1 to L2. Although CA studies in theory could predict native language transfer in both directions (i.e. in Persian L1-English L2, as well as English L1-Persian L2), in fact all of these aimed to predict difficulties and challenges of Persian speakers trying to acquire English L2, and not the other way around.

According to Khanzadi (2011), among very few SLA studies on English L1 learners of Persian L2 is the one carried out by Tarallo and Myhill (1983). …

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