Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 10 : 4 April 2010
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         K. Karunakaran, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.
         S. M. Ravichandran, Ph.D.



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The Influence of First Language Grammar (L1) on
the English Language (L2) Writing of Tamil School Students:
A Case Study from Malaysia

Mahendran Maniam, Ph.D. (ESL)


Chapter One      Introduction

Chapter Two      Literature Review

Chapter Three      Methodology

Chapter Four      Data Analysis

Chapter Five      Discussion and Conclusion





This study focuses on the interference of L1 grammatical rules in the writing of L2 with specific reference to the interference of Tamil (L1) in English (L2). This study seeks to find out the components of the L1 grammar that the students of Tamil schools use interchangeably in their daily writing of L2, namely English. It further seeks to find out which grammatical components dominate the inter-language grammar. The research hopes to seek further understanding regarding the theoretical debate on inter-language grammar influence.

I decided to embark on this study when I was teaching English to some Tamil school students, a few years ago. I found that these students always had the tendency to answer English questions in Tamil. When they really tried to answer in English, they usually resorted to using the direct translation method. I observed that whenever they did this, their answers were heavily influenced by their mother tongue, both phonologically and grammatically. This observation is based on my intuition as a multilingual speaker who has had experience, in terms of mother tongue interference, while studying English in college. A lot of research has been conducted regarding the phonological interference of inter-languages, for example, (Keys, 2002). A much relevant research that was done pertaining to writing was in 1999 which was published in the International Educational Journal. "Native Language Interference in Learning a Second Language: Exploratory Case Studies of Native Language interference with Target Language Usage." (Baljit Bhela, 1999). I would like to explore the grammatical interference of L2 learners further, particularly among children. How does a child create the mental construct that is language? Children do not wake up one morning with a fully formed grammar in their heads or with all the 'rules' of social and communicative intercourse. Linguistic knowledge develops in stages. Chomsky (1950) first resorted to this concept of Universal Grammar because he believes that children can not learn their first language so quickly and effortlessly without the help of some inborn talents.

In terms of Second Language Acquisition (SLA), learners are faced with the same logical problems faced in the process of acquiring the first language. Furthermore, this learning is also influenced, either positively or negatively, by the first language. However, to what extent does the interference (if any) really affect the learners? These are the questions that always concern me whenever I teach children in vernacular schools. Since the 1960s researchers like Nabakov (1960) have pointed unequivocally to the advantages of bilingualism. Children who know a second language are better at separating semantic from phonetic aspects of words, at tasks involving classification, and at tests of creativity. They are said to have sharper awareness of language.

Knowledge of a second language is a normal part of human existence, therefore it may well be unusual to know only one language. Second Language Acquisition (SLA) is not a uniform and predictable phenomenon. There is no single way in which learners acquire knowledge of a second language (L2). There are many factors that contribute to SLA. Different learners in different situations learn L2 in different ways. Second language acquisition refers to all the aspects of language that the language learner needs to master. However, the focus, for example has been on how L2 learners acquire grammatical sub-systems, such as the syntactical rules, subject-verb agreement and tenses. It is a strong belief among scholars in language studies that SLA is influenced by the learners' first language (L1) to varying degrees. The clear support for this belief comes from 'foreign' accents in the L2 speech of learners. When an Indian of Tamil or Hindi background in the subcontinent speaks English, his/her English sounds Tamil or Hindi (popular languages among the Indians).

This is only the beginning part of the dissertation. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE DISSERTATION IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

The Influence of First Language Grammar (L1) on the English Language (L2) Writing of Tamil School Students: A Case Study from Malaysia | Economic Hardship and Emotional Humiliation in Mulk Raj Anand's Untouchable | Effects of Using Urdu Dictionary as a Teaching Tool for Teaching Urdu in Urdu Language Classroom in Pakistan | Acoustic Correlates of Stress in Mizo, a Tonal Language | Racism and the American Dream in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men | Stimulating Language Strategies through Thinking - Help for Slow Learners | Masses as the True Makers of History - Analysis of the Play The Trial of Dedan Mimathi | Personal and Labour Market Environment Factors in English for Employability: A Case Study of KSA | A Study of the Reported Language Skill Development Strategies of the Student Teachers in Pakistan | Strategies for Communication Skills Development | Schema in Learning | Achieving Professional Goals: Use of a Mixed Discourse in Interviews | The Reality in Langston Hughes' Poems | Techniques to Teach Vocabulary to Regional Medium Students | Life History of Buddha as Reflected in Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha | Technique as Voyage of Discovery: A Study of the Techniques in Dante's Paradiso | Some Gaps in the Current Studies of Reading in Second/Foreign Language Learning | Unmasking Student Competence: Using Computers to Teach Writing | Feminist Literary Criticism | Amy Tan and Chinese American Literature | An Acoustic Analysis of Glottal Fricative [h] at Word Medial and Final Positions:
A Comparison between Regular and Non-regular Urdu Speakers of Pakistan
| Teaching Writing Skills | Self-esteem of Institutionalised Elderly Women in Coimbatore - A Case History | An Assessment on Women's Work Participation and Economic Equality | Economics of Crime : A Comparative Analysis of the Socio-Economic Conditions of Convicted Female and Male Criminality in Selected Prisons in Tamil Nadu | A PRINT VERSION OF ALL THE PAPERS OF APRIL 2010 ISSUE IN BOOK FORMAT | HOME PAGE of April 2010 Issue | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR

Mahendran Maniam, M.Ed. (TESL), Ph.D. (ESL)
Language Faculty
Sultan Idris Educat Ion University
35900 Tanjong Malim, Perak

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