Negative Language Transfer: An Analysis of Negative Transfer Errors by English-speaking Learners of L2 Chinese
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SubjectNegative Language Transfer; Chinese; Chinese foreign language learners; semantic transfer errors; grammar instruction
This study examined the influence of negative transfer in Chinese learning. The error analysis method was used in this study by measuring and comparing the types and number of negative transfer errors in Chinese writing and translation tasks conducted by two of groups students at different Chinese proficiency levels. Two students in an elementary Chinese 201 class and two in an intermediate Chinese 301 class were selected. According to the quantitative findings, the lowest number of transfer errors was found in lexical subsystem. Next was semantic transfer errors. The largest number of transfer errors was found in the syntactic subsystem which resulted from the students’ lack of grammatical knowledge in Chinese. The result also indicated that it is impossible to say whether L1 transfer increases or decreases with the development of L2 proficiency. Qualitative interviews conducted with the selected students gave insights about students’ awareness of negative transfer, grammar learning strategies and experience, and attitudes and perceptions of grammar instruction. The interviews revealed that students are aware of negative transfer in different degrees, and explicit grammar instruction and constant practice could minimize the transfer errors.
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