It is a linguistic system of students of a second language or foreign language in each one of adquisiction levels. The students have different learning processes. This system is a mediator between the mother language (L1) and learning language of students (L2). There are different stages that the students have to get for acquire the second language.
L1 transfers to L2
- It is accepted that L1 conditions the acquisition of a second language to a certain degree, as the learner’s tendency is to transfer the forms and meanings of his/her mother tongue into the new language. Language interference (also known as linguistic interference, cross-linguistic interference or transfer) is the effect of a language learner’s first language on their production of the language they are learning. The effect can be on any aspect of language: grammar, vocabulary, accent, spelling etc. It is most often discussed as a source of errors (negative transfer), although where the relevant feature of both languages is the same, it results in correct language production (positive transfer). To illustrate this, we know that for Spanish students of English, it is very common to use the structure I have 20 years old, instead of I am 20 years old. This is known as negative transference or interference. In the case of a German student of English, he or she will say Ich bin 20 Jahre alt, and in this case we are talking about positive transference, as both languages make use of the same grammatical structure to express the same concept.
- Interference may be conscious or unconscious. Consciously, the student may guess because he has not learned or has forgotten the correct usage. Unconsciously, the student may not consider that the features of the languages may differ, or he may know the correct rules but be insufficiently skilled to put them into practice, and so fall back on the example of his first language.
- Language interference produces distinctive forms in the way English is used depending on the speaker’s first language. For instance, Spanglish (Spanish), Franglais (French) or Chinglish (Chinese). Some examples of Spanglish will be parqueando and clickenado.
- Now, we are going to describe some of the language transferences that can be found comparing English and Spanish:
- Phonology: The phonological system of Spanish is significantly different from the English one, particularly in the aspects of vowel sounds and sentence stress. These differences make it difficult for Spanish learners to acquire a native-English-speaker accent. Spanish has 5 pure vowels and 5 dipthongs. The length of the vowel is not significant in distinguishing between words. This contrasts with English, which has 12 pure vowel sounds and 8 dipthongs. The length of the vowel sound plays an important role. It is not surprising, therefore, that Spanish learners may have great difficulty in producing or even perceiving the various English vowel sounds. Specific problems include the failure to distinguish the sounds in words such as ship/sheep, taught/tot, fool/full or cart/cat/cut.
- Grammar - Verb/Tense: Although Spanish is a much more heavily inflected language than English, there are many aspects of verb grammar that are similar. The major problem for the Spanish learner is that there is no one-to-one correspondence in the use of the tenses. So, for example, a Spanish learner might incorrectly use a simple tense instead of a progressive or a future one: She has a shower instead of She's having a shower; I help you after school instead of I'll help you after school. Problematic for beginners is the formation of interrogatives or negatives in English. The absence of an auxiliary in such structures in Spanish may cause learners to say: Why you say that? / Who he saw? / Do you saw him? / I no see him. / I not saw him.
- Vocabulary: Due to shared Latin influence English and Spanish have many cognates (words with a similar form and meaning among two given languages), and the corresponding collection of false friends (words that look alike in different languages, but their meanings are very different), such as eventual (English translation > possible), particular (English translation > private) or constipado. Cognates facilitate positive transfers, whereas false friends are negative. Since the Latin-derived words in English tend to be more formal, the Spanish student will benefit when reading academic text. He or she may sound too formal, however, if using such words in everyday spoken English. Conversely, phrasal verbs, which are an essential aspect of colloquial English, are difficult for Spanish learners and may obstruct listening comprehension.
- Pragmatic: English speakers learning Spanish tend to say ¿Puedo tener una coca-cola?, by using a calque of the structure Can I have…?
- Code or language switching occurs when an individual who is bilingual alternates between two languages during his/her speech with another bilingual person. This phenomenon occurs in bilingual areas, as two languages coexist. A bilingual person is said to be able to communicate in two languages with the same command and efficiency.
- Depending on the situation and context in which it occurs, code switching may be viewed as an extension to language for bilingual speakers or as interference. When code switching is to compensate for a language difficulty it may be viewed as interference, and when it is used as socio-linguistic tool, that is, to express solidarity, convey an attitude or show social respect, it should not.
- The language used more frequently by a bilingual person plays an important role in code-switching. For example, Spanish-English bilinguals code-switch more when they communicate in Spanish, their first-language, and little or no code-switch when they communicate in English, their second-language. This argument is reasonable since most bilinguals in the US, whose first-language is Spanish, obtain their formal education in English. Likewise, many of their everyday interactions involve the secondlanguage. As a result, words and concepts in English, the second-language, become more accessible than words in Spanish, the first-language. Thus, code-switching is not the same for both languages. An example of this is the following text. This is a code switching dialogue from the Spanglish novel Yo-Yo Boing!, by Giannia Braschi:
- Ábrela tú.
- ¿Por qué yo? Tú tienes las keys. Yo te las entregué. Además, I left mine adentro.
- ¿Por qué las dejaste adentro?
- Porque I knew you had yours.
- ¿Por qué dependes de mí?
- Just open it, and make it fast. Part of Yo-Yo Boing by Giannina Braschi More examples of code-switching: http://courses.essex.ac.uk/lg/lg102/CodeSwitchExs3SpEng.htm