It is commonly assumed that where there are differences between L1 and L2, the learner's L1 will probably interfere with the L2 (negative language transfer), whereas, when L1 and L2 are similar, the L2 will assist the L2 learning (positive language transfer) (Ellis, 1994). Therefore, we tend to believe that most of the errors are account of negative transfer. This is partly true according to many empirical studies of errors which have showed that many errors are common to different linguistic backgrounds. The L1 is, therefore, one of various sources of errors, and there might be other reasons which should be considered (Krashen, 1988).
Approaches to Errors
Errors are made when learners of L2 produce incorrect language because they do not know the correct form, while mistakes are made when learners produce incorrect language although they know the correct form (macmillandictionary.com). Learners can correct their own mistakes, but by definition, they can not correct errors. Errors are considered to be partial acquisition of the target language. In fact, errors should be viewed as "the tip of the iceberg" of a dynamic process of foreign language acquisition (brj.asu.edu). Instead of treating the developmental stages in learners' language as errors, it may be better to view these errors as partial acquisition. This point of view and many others concerning errors, however, neither overlook nor neglect the positive and negative influence of L1 on L2 and their consequences. There are some clear indications that children's L1 may temporarily interfere with L2 learning; L1 phonological and orthographic processes interfere with spelling L2 words with unfamiliar phonemes or graphemes; miscues in L2 reading can be attributed to native language syntactical knowledge; and word-order variation, complex noun phrases and other complex structural differences between languages can mislead the foreign language learner (cal.org)....
Bibliography: August, D. & Calderon, M. & Carlo, M. (March/April 2001). The transfer of skills from Spanish to English: a study of young learners. NABE News, American Educational Research Journal. from www.cal.org/pubs/articles
Ellis, R. (1994). Understanding Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 7-37
Gonzales, V.& Chen, C & Saches, C. (2001). Cultural thinking and discourse organizational patterns influencing English as a foreign language (EFL0 learner. Bilingual Research Journal 25 (4) from www.brj.asu.edu/articles
Krashen, S. (1988). Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning. Prentice Hall International (UK). pp 64-70
Tsiouris, E. (2003,February 10). Approches to Errors/Mistakes Made by Learners. from www.efl.gr.modules
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