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Critical Examination of the Assumptions of Contrastive Analysis

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Critical Examination of the Assumptions of Contrastive Analysis

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UNIVERSITY OF GHANA
DEPARTMENT OF LINGUISTICS

MA (TESL) SANDWICH PROGRAMME
June 2011-06-20

CONTINUOUS ASSESSMENT ONE

Name:Joseph Narh Padi

ID:10191761

Course Code:TESL 645

Course Title:Theories of Second Language Learning

Lecturers’ Name: Prof. Kofi Agyekum and Mr. John Tetteh Agor

Question: Outline the assumptions of Contrastive Analysis and critically examine the procedures associated with this hypothesis.

Introduction

This paper will try to explain what is meant by Contrastive Analysis and give a brief background of its development. It will then give an outline of the assumptions of Contrastive Analysis, present the procedures and assess their strengths and weaknesses.

Contrastive analysis has been defined by Gass and Selinker (1994: 59) as “a way of comparing languages in order to determine potential errors for the ultimate purpose of isolating what needs to be learned and what does not need to be learned in a second language learning situation”.

Fisiak also defines it as “a subdiscipline of linguistics concerned with the comparison of two or more languages or subsystems of language in order to determine both the differences and similarities between them” Fisiak et al. (1978) cited in Fisiak (1981:1).

From the above definitions we can say, therefore, that the contrastive analyst is preoccupied with the comparison of two languages (the first and second language of a language learner) to be able to find areas of differences and similarities to help the learner to acquire the language easily.

Background of Contrastive Analysis

Contrastive Analysis emerged in the late 1950s and reached its peak in the 1960s. Even though works with similar orientation had been in existence, almost every contrastive analyst agreed that it was Lado’s book, Linguistics Across Cultures (1957), that gave birth to the hypothesis. He made reference to earlier works (Haugen 1956 and Weinreich 1953) to buttress his...