Contrastive Analysis

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April 24, 2009

Contrastive analysis:
Prosperity, Decline and new Hopes of revival

It should be mentioned that the history of foreign language teaching is so complicated. The complexities are the outcome of the rise of the assumptions of so many theories, approaches, methods and hypotheses that dominated this field , especially beginning from1940s and up till now. Today there are innumerable assumptions for approaches and methods that relate to language learning and teaching. All of them claim to be the right approach for learning and teaching a language. In the midst of these situations, foreign language teachers find it extremely difficult to decide upon an approach, a method or a hypothesis to adopt, so as the process of teaching becomes easier to them and this, of course, would make the process of learning easier to the students in turn. The purpose of this short paper is to explain the assumptions behind what is called ' Contrastive Analysis Hypothesis' (CAH) to language teaching and learning. Examples from English and Arabic; English and German will be cited, and then demonstrate why contrastive analysis was rejected after decades of prosperity in which it dominated the area of foreign language teaching for almost 20 years. In this effect, According to Larsen-Freeman & Long (1991) in (Yoon,2002):

this was a time when structural linguistics and behavioral

psychology were rather dominant in the study of language

learning. CA proponents came to advocate that L2 instructional

materials could be prepared more efficiently by comparing two

languages and, in the process, predict learners' behaviors and difficulties(qtd. in Dina 2).

Contrastive Analysis(CA) was developed by Charles Fries, and was more explained and clarified by Robert Lado. CA is based on the assumptions that the majority of the errors done by non-native learners, throughout their course of studying a language, are related to the interference of the...
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