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Learner Language in Korean Classrooms: Implications for teaching. Elaine Tarone University of Minnesota Am. Assoc of Teachers of Korean 2004. Learner Language: A Brief Personal History.

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learner language in korean classrooms implications for teaching

Learner Language in Korean Classrooms: Implications for teaching

Elaine Tarone

University of Minnesota

Am. Assoc of Teachers of Korean


learner language a brief personal history
Learner Language: A Brief Personal History
  • 1968, Edinburgh University - Scotland - Diploma in Applied Linguistics. On faculty: Larry Selinker, S.P. Corder, Alan Davies. Fellow student: H.G. Widdowson
  • Times: Contrastive Analysis (Robt Lado, Charles Fries) “ALL learning difficulties of ALL second-language learners are caused by native language transfer”
  • Revolution: let’s study learners’ language!

1. Error Analysis: “Do errors LOOK like they’re all caused by native language transfer, or something else?”

2. Language Acquisition Device: “do adult second-language learners have a ‘built-in syllabus’ similar to that of children acquiring their first language?” (Corder)

  • For first time in history (that we know), people interested in teaching second language stopped talking about what TEACHERS do, and began to look systematically at what second-language LEARNERS do, and know, and think about the learning enterprise. SLA research was born.
different views of learner language
Different Views of Learner Language
  • S.P. Corder: Transitional competence. Learner has a “built-in syllabus” that he follows no matter what the teacher’s syllabus is. Input does not equal intake.
  • Larry Selinker: Adult second-language learners do not have the same language acquisition device children do. We know this because:
second language learning is so difficult for adults cf selinker 1972
… second-language learning is so difficult for adults (cf Selinker 1972)
  • While every young child acquires a native languages perfectly, and without instruction,
  • … adults never acquire a second language perfectly, and seem to need instruction.
  • The result of early child acquisition is a perfect native language; the result of adult SLA is always an interlanguage.
interlanguage is defined by selinker 1972 as
Interlanguage is defined by Selinker (1972) as:
  • The unique linguistic system evidenced when an adult second-language learner attempts to USE the language to express meanings.
  • This linguistic system is created from generalizations made by the learner. It is not just the native language rules and not just the target language rules. Learner generates and tests hypotheses.
  • A fossilized system: never develops to point of identity with the target language. Selinker felt this was because of cognitive loss, with age, of the language acquisition device.
hallmarks of the interlanguage claim
Hallmarks of the Interlanguage Claim
  • Applies to adults, not children.
  • Characteristics derive in part from the native language, in part from the target language (overgeneralization of target language rules), in part from instruction, and in part from strategies (communication strategies and learning strategies)
  • Learner makes interlingual identifications (hypotheses about what is the same and what is different across languages)
  • Fossilization is central and inevitable, for adults
what is the target of interlanguage development
What is the target of interlanguage development?
  • The learner’s target is not necessarily native speaker competence in the target language.
  • Interlanguage doesn’t always develop linearly; it could be influenced by more than one target.
  • The target of learning is selected by the learner. The target might be the learner’s model of Indian English, or of Hong Kong English.
  • Whatever the learner’s target, the interlanguage hypothesis suggests that the adult learner will not achieve it because the LAD is gone.
english l1 korean l2 interlanguage
English (L1)-Korean(L2) interlanguage?
  • Let’s consider some features of interlanguage in turn:

1. IL is formed by learner generalizations that come from many sources

2. IL is only used when learner expresses meaning

3. Learners need form-focused feedback when they use IL

4. IL fossilizes

examples of english korean il
Examples of English-Korean IL
  • Hye-Sook: Give Korean examples (?!)
  • Papers at this conference:
    • Jin Hong Kim, on Korean learner corpora
    • K. Seon Jeon, on L2 lexical learning
    • Helen Kim, on processing transfer and strategies
    • Yoo Sang Rhee, on speech acts produced by Korean learners
    • Jeonyi Lee, conversation patterns of learners of Korean
data for this presentation
Data for this presentation
  • Journals of two American learners of Korean at a large Midwest University (ER and TF), who wrote down their reflections about their learning of Korean, in journals addressed to their teacher, Jihyeon Jeon (1995, 1996)
  • I’d like to identify (w/Hye-Sook’s help) some features of Korean-English interlanguage that these learners refer to in their journals, and …
  • … consider, with you, what classroom teachers can learn from these learners’ reflections.

1. The learner creates his or her own IL rules and generalizations. IL is a separate linguistic system: not the native language system and not the target language system.

  • These generalizations are created by the learner, sometimes butnot always based on native language rules. Adults do not transfer ALL their old grammar and pronunciation patterns into their new language.
  • Adults do not immediately produce the EXACT grammar or pronunciation of the new language, sounding exactly the way native speakers do. Their learner rules may be over-generalized parts of Korean rules they’ve learned.
  • Adults combine elements of their native language, elements of the new language, and other elements when they try to speak the new language.
korean english interlanguage native language transfer
Korean/English interlanguage: Native language transfer

Errors in phonology due to native language transfer (Jeon, p.c.):

1. pronouncing the consonant sounds (e.g. ka (with a little aspiration), kka (without aspiration), kha (with more aspiration), etc.)

  • 2. pronouncing vowel sounds (particularly, vowel length)
  • 3. having appropriate rhythm in the language. Korean sounds ‘flatter’ than English because every syllable in a sentence is more or less equally stressed, whereas English sounds rhythmic because some syllables are more stressed than others. Americans try to use English rhythm patterns in Korean.
korean english interlanguage native language transfer1
Korean/English Interlanguage: Native language transfer

Syntactic errors due to native language transfer (Jeon, p.c.):

  • 1. Not using subject markers and object markers (which clarify meaning in a Korean sentence) appropriately.
  • 2. Supplying sentence parts that are not required in context. Since Korean language is based on high-context culture, whenever they are understood from the context, the subject and the object of the sentence are omitted. On the other hand, the subject and object are required sentence parts in an English sentence. And thus, English speakers often use the subject and the object even though they are not required in context for Korean.
implications for teaching
Implications for Teaching
  • Expect learners to draw on multiple sources for their generalizations and rules: English, Korean, instructional rules, personal perceptions and preferences, strategies.
  • Expect learners’ rule systems to change over time according to their own internal syllabus. Be patient; input does not equal intake.
  • Teach inductively: give students examples of Korean target structures and ask them to create generalizations; then show them the correct rule.
  • Have interested students keep journals for you to read, so you can understand their perspective, and the generalizations they are making about Korean.
2 interlanguage system is revealed when learner tries to express meaning
2. Interlanguage system is revealed when learner tries to express meaning
  • We only see the the language the learner has really internalized (IL) when he tries to express an original meaning in the new language.
  • We do not see this when she is repeating something after the teacher, or copying what is on the board, or reciting memorized sequences. Such activities do not draw on the interlanguage rules.
  • Can such activities help the interlanguage develop? These learners don’t think so …
er on copying from the board
ER on copying from the board
  • I’m finding that we have to do a lot of copying from the board in this class. Idon’t really like it, because it takes a lot of time. … Last week Li had us practice a little reading selection. However, she “gave” us the reading selection by writing it on the board first, and then we had to copy it down. So, is that legitimate “reading?”“copying?”
er on copying grammar rules
ER on copying grammar rules
  • [The teacher] simply stops talking, turns her back to us, and starts writing [grammar rules on the board]. We’re expected to copy it all down, and to learn it that way. She will, then, when most of us are finished writing, orally talk through it again, and that is when she’ll go through examples to illustrate what we’re learning. Usually, the best part of the lesson is the time spent on examples.
implications for teaching1
Implications for teaching
  • If your goal is to have students who can USE Korean to transmit meaning, then give them opportunities in the classroom to practice using the Korean they know to transmit real meaning (e.g., to tell you or one another something new, give and follow directions, etc. using Korean).
  • They can do this with you, in front of class, or in pairs with each other.
3 students need form focused feedback doughty williams 1998
3. Students need form-focused feedback (Doughty & Williams 1998)
  • Learner notices and responds to implicit and explicit negative feedback provided when errors are made in the course of communicating meaning.
  • When the learner does this, many researchers claim that acquisition results. Thus, feedback (correction) in the midst of communicative activity is extremely important.
er on need for feedback
ER on need for feedback
  • I got my tape back from Park. She only corrected one sentence of mine for pronunciation. However, I didn’t clearly understand what my mistake was. Sometimes I can’t hear the correct differences between words and sounds.
  • I’ve never received any feedback regarding my writing. The quizzes, too, often seem random. I never quite know what they are testing.
implications for teaching2
Implications for Teaching
  • Find ways to correct student performance WHILE they are using Korean to communicate:

* provide explicit correction

* recast errors; ask students to recast each other

* correct student writing and ask for rewrites

* correct students’ pronunciation & make them practice (have them tape sentences with pauses between the sentences, listen to the tapes, and provide correct pronunciations in the pauses)

4 interlanguage is fossilized
4. Interlanguage is fossilized
  • Adults always stop developing their new language before they reach their goal (whatever that is).
  • Their grammar and pronunciation and vocabulary always sound “foreign” to speakers of the target variety.
implications for teaching3
Implications for Teaching
  • Model native behavior in Korean use but be strategic in what you correct.
  • Correct first for intelligibility, not 100% nativeness, in learners’ Korean language use
  • Encourage students when you see progress
summary teaching suggestions consistent with research on learner language
Summary: Teaching Suggestions consistent with research on learner language
  • Teach inductively: give students examples of target structures, invite them to make generalizations, then tell them the correct rule.
  • Give students opportunities to practice using the Korean they know to transmit real meaning: e.g. to tell you or one another something new, using Korean.
  • Expect errors to come from several sources: learners’ reliance on English, their overgeneralizations of Korean rules they’ve learned, and strategies they use.
  • Find ways to correct student performance in speech and writing, ideally their performance transmitting MEANING in Korean.
we need studies on english korean interlanguage
We need studies on English-Korean interlanguage
  • What is the built-in syllabus of Korean L2? What are the stages of its acquisition?
  • What is the role of native language transfer in shaping a Korean IL?
  • What sorts of overgeneralizations of Korean rules do learners of Korean make?
  • What is the role of meaningful use of Korean IL in SLA? Can IL develop from memorization and copying tasks?
  • Does negative feedback in the midst of communicative activity have an impact on the development of Korean L2? Can students provide this feedback effectively to each other?
  • Are there learners of Korean L2 whose ILs do not fossilize?
  • Doughty, C., & Williams, J. (Eds.). (1998). Focus on Form in Classroom Second Language Acquisition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Jihyeon Jeon (1996). Instructed L2 acquisition and learners’ motivation, English Teaching, 51(1), p. 59-81.
  • Jihyeon Jeon Park (1995). Adult learners’ motivation in learning a non-cognate foreign language, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Minnesota.
  • Selinker, L. (1972). Interlanguage. IRAL 10:209-241.
  • Tarone, E. (1994). Interlanguage. In R. Asher & S. Simpson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (Vol. 4, pp. 1715-1719). Oxford: Pergamon.