Cross-Linguistic Similarity And Transfer In Foreign Language Learning

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Cross-linguistic Similarity And Transfer In Foreign Language Learning


  • Abstract 3
  • Introduction 4
  • Method
  • Cross-linguistic similarity and its types:
  • Definition of cross-linguistic similarity 5
  • Actual, perceived and assumed similarities 7
  • Functional / semantic and formal similarity 9
  • Similarity, contrast, and zero dealingss 11
  • Transportation and its types:
  • Definition of transportation 13
  • Linguistic relativity, conceptual transportation, and intending transportation 14
  • Cross-linguistic influence in surveies on 2nd linguistic communication acquisition 15
  • Cross-linguistic influence in surveies on first linguistic communication loss 15
  • Consequence 16
  • Decision 16
  • Mention 17


This survey emphasized on cross-linguistic influences on foreign linguistic communication acquisition, and its different types which are used by L2 scholars during linguistic communication developmental procedure. In this corporate survey the focal point is on importance of cross-linguistic similarity, transportations and their types which are used by scholars in different acquisition phases. These cross-linguistic effects can be facilitative or suppressing during L2 larning procedure. The consequence indicated that cross-linguistic similarity and transportation are critical factors and an of import determiner in a procedure of foreign linguistic communication larning. They may rush up L2 acquisition and besides decelerate down it, excessively. Teachers of foreign linguistic communications should be cognizant of this phenomenon and be able to command the usage of this factor in L2 procedures and aid to forestall mistakes and jobs which may originate from them.


Cross-linguistic has been defined by assorted pedagogues in different diaries and books. One of its definitions is:

Cross-linguistic influence is a cover term used to mention to phenomena such as adoption, intervention, and linguistic communication transportation in which one linguistic communication shows the influence of another. It is sometimes preferred to the more widely used term “transfer” and particularly “interference” , because “cross-linguistic influence” avoids associations with behaviourisms ( Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & A ; Applied Linguistics, Richards & A ; Schmidt, 2002 ) .

As we can see in above definition, cross-linguistic influence and transportations have critical function in a procedure of foreign linguistic communication larning. Knowledge about this subject can assist both instructors and scholars. There are so many surveies which are done about this subject, because all of those research workers are familiar with the importance of this factor in a procedure of L2 acquisition. The intent of the present survey is to explicate in item about cross-linguistic similarity, transportation, and their types which are used by any scholar during different degrees of L2 larning. By understanding cross-linguistic influences and its assorted types, linguistic communication instructors become more cognizant and familiar with scholars possible transportations and mistakes during L2 acquisition. So, they can act more efficaciously in the procedure of learner’s foreign linguistic communication acquisition.

The Method

-Definition of cross-linguistic similarity

There are so many factors which influence foreign linguistic communication acquisition, one of them is cross-linguistic similarity. This factor can be good for L2 scholars in early phases of acquisition. After some times if they don’t be careful it can ensue in incorrect and negative transportations. But largely cross-linguistic similarity is helpful for L2 scholars.

Second linguistic communication research has tended to concentrate on differences, as they are manifested in lingual fluctuation of legion sorts, instead than on similarities. To the scholar, nevertheless, similarities have a much more direct consequence on linguistic communication acquisition and public presentation than difference do. Learners are invariably seeking to set up links between the TL ( aim linguistic communication ) and whatever prior lingual cognition they have. Alternatively of seeking out differences, they tend to look for similarities wherever they find them. They make usage of intra-lingual similarities, which are perceived from what they have already learnt of the mark linguistic communication. However, at early phases of acquisition, when their TL cognition is limited, the L1 is by and large the chief beginning of comprehending lingual similarities, though other known linguistic communications, particularly if they are related to the mark linguistic communication, and if they have been acquired to a high degree of proficiency, may besides hold an of import portion to play. Perceiving and doing usage of cross-linguistic similarities to prior cognition is of import in the scholars endeavoring to ease the acquisition undertaking, and these are processes cardinal to reassign ( Long & A ; Doughty, 2009, p. 106 ) .

Similarity is basic, difference secondary. The hunt for similarities is an indispensable procedure in larning. The natural process in larning something new is to set up a relation between a new proposition or undertaking and what already exists in the head. Chronologically, perceptual experience of similarity, something positive, comes foremost, difference, something negative, come into the image merely if similarities can non be established ( Ringbom, 2007, p. 14 ) .

Ringbom claims that “ Noordman-Vonk ( 1979 ) when topics have to judge whether a certain relation between constructs exists, they foremost seek to happen positive grounds for that relation. If this can non be found, they will seek to happen grounds that facilitates the relation” ( Ringbom, 2007, p. 14 ) .

-Actual, perceived, and assumed similarity

There are different types of cross-linguistic similarities, knowledge about these assorted types can assist us to understand their difference better.

Consequently, it is of import to separate between existent similarities and false similarities. These two similarities, in fact, relate to different degrees. Actual similarities or differences belong to the sphere of linguistics and can consequently be analyzed linguistically, whereas what the scholar does with or assumes about the TL relates to the procedures taking topographic point in the scholars mind. Actual and assumed similarities can hypothetically be to the full congruent if the scholar accurately perceives the nonsubjective similarities between two linguistic communications but this appears to be comparatively rare. Indeed, in the foreign-language acquisition scene, the disparity between existent and false similarities can be great, and this consequences from ( 1 ) Learners failure to detect a figure of the existent similarities that exist across linguistic communications, ( 2 ) Learners misconception of the nature of many of the similarities that they do notice, ( 3 ) Learners premises that there exist certain similarities between the linguistic communications that really do non be and which the scholars have correspondingly ne’er antecedently encountered ( Long & A ; Doughty, 2007, p. 106-107 ) .

These types of similarities have different effects on linguistic communication acquisition dimensions. In another portion of “The manus nook of linguistic communication teaching” , Long and Doughty claim that “ Kellerman ( 1978 ) and Odlin ( 1989 ) do it clear that false similarities have a greater and more direct consequence on linguistic communication acquisition and public presentation than existent similarities do” ( Long & A ; Doughty, 2007, p. 107 ) .

They besides claim that “ Ard & A ; Homburg ( 1992 ) , Odlin ( 1989 ) and Ringbom ( 1987 ) , although existent similarities do look to account rather good for scholars rate of acquisition and the sum of clip they need to accomplish certain degrees of proficiency in the mark language” ( Long & A ; Doughty, 2009, p. 107 ) .

There is another type of similarity in cross-linguistics which is perceived similarity.

In comprehension, particularly of a related linguistic communication, scholars straight perceive similarities, by which we mean that scholars encounter and go cognizant of characteristics of the TL that they recognize as bearing resemblance to a linguistic communication they already know. These similarities are usually formal similarities- i.e. / similarities refering to the spelling, pronunciation, and/ or morphological makeup of words or multiword constructions ( Long & A ; Doughty, 2009, p. 107-108 ) .

-Functional/ semantic and formal similarity

Some other sorts of cross-linguistic similarities are functional/ semantic and formal similarities, which have influence on 2nd linguistic communication acquisition. Most of research workers and writers of cross-linguistics has mentioned these similarities in their books or diaries.

Cross-linguistic similarity is most evidently perceived on the footing of officially similar or indistinguishable single points or words. The similarities may besides be functional or semantic, in grammatical classs and semantic units, where no formal similarity is at manus. Grammatical similarities occur even across entirely unrelated linguistic communications ( Ringbom, 2007, p. 17 ) .

“Learners have a strong inclination to presume semantic and matter-of-fact similarities between L1 and TL without holding of all time perceived those similarities, and this is true irrespective of how typologically distant the two linguistic communication are” ( Ringbom, 2007, p. 17 ) .

Refering formal similarities on the other manus, scholars tend non to presume that the formal belongingss of words and multi-word constructions are similar until they have really perceived those similarities, although, crucially, this depends mostly on the typological distances between the two linguistic communications and besides on the learner’s degrees of proficiency. In typologically similar linguistic communications, there are more similarities to comprehend, and when scholars have crossed a certain threshold of sensed similarities, they frequently assume extra formal similarities that they have ne’er perceived ( Long & A ; Doughty, 2009, p. 108 ) .

In grammar, functional cross-linguistic similarity is what affairs. How easy the scholar can set up working one-to-one correspondences between grammatical elements mostly depends on the grade congruity, the similarity of the maps of grammatical category… In lexis, formal similarity to an bing L1 word is perceived foremost, in that acquiring the word from precedes acquiring the word meaning… Formal correspondences arouse hopes of semantic or functional equality. Such hopes are frequently fulfilled in related linguistic communications, where formal cross-linguistic similarity usually goes together with some semantic similarity, though non ever semantic individuality. After run intoing a word that is officially and semantically similar to the L1 word, the scholar does non necessitate to use much attempt on hive awaying it in his mental vocabulary ( Ringbom, 2007, p. 18 ) .

-Similarity, contrast and zero dealingss

There are three types of cross-linguistic similarity dealingss which are: ( 1 ) a similarity relation, ( 2 ) a contrast relation, ( 3 ) a zero relation.

The similarity relation means that an point or form in the TL is perceived as officially and/ or functionally similar to a signifier or form in L1 or some other linguistic communication known to the learner… All-out cross-linguistic similarity of both signifier and map is, nevertheless, rare, except for really closely related linguistic communications such as Swedish and Norse which in rule are reciprocally comprehendible ( Ringbom, 2007, p. 15 ) .

So, when there is a similarity relation between L1 and TL, of class scholars in early phases of larning can acquire profit from this signifier and map similarities, this can rush up scholars larning procedure. Another relation is “a contrast relation, the scholar perceives a TL form as in of import ways differing from an L1 signifier or form, though there is besides an underlying similarity between them” ( Long & A ; Doughty, 2009, p. 109 ) . Contrast relation may do some confusion during larning procedure for scholars but its impact is non ever negative because despite of contrast relation there may be a similarity between L1 and TL.

The last relation that can do someway more jobs for TL scholars in early phases of L2 acquisition is zero relation.

The zero relation does non intend that the scholar finds nil at all that is relevant to L1 as the acquisition progresses. There are, after all, some lingual universals common to all linguistic communications. But the degree of abstraction in these universals is so high that an mean linguistic communication scholar can non easy notice characteristics that a wholly different TL has in common with L1. The zero relation simply means that points and forms in the TL at early phases of larning appear to hold small or no perceptible relation to the L1 or any other linguistic communication the scholar knows ( Ringbom, 2007, p. 15 ) .

  • Transportation and its types:

-Definition of transportation

Most of TL scholars use transportation as an assistance during their acquisition procedure, but sometimes transportations are right and helpful and sometimes incorrect and confusing.

( In larning theory ) the transporting over of erudite behaviour from one state of affairs to another. Positive transportation is larning in one state of affairs which helps or facilitates larning in another ulterior state of affairs. Negative transportation is larning in one state of affairs which interferes with larning in another ulterior state of affairs ( Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & A ; Applied Linguistics, Richards & A ; Schmidt, 2002 ) .

-Linguistic relativity, conceptual transportation, and significance transportation

Transportation has different types, each of them has consequence on specific parts of L2 larning. Learners may utilize these transportations any clip is needed in their L2 developmental procedure. These transportations are:

Linguistic relativity is frequently defined as the hypothesized influence of linguistic communication on idea. Such influence might impact either comprehension or production, and such influence could, of class, affect comprehension or production in a 2nd linguistic communication ( or a 3rd, a Forth, etc. ) ; furthermore, the influence might be where the L1 influenced by the L2. Conceptual transportation can consequently be defined as those instances of lingual relativity affecting, most typically, a 2nd language… Cases of influence from the semantic or pragmatics of the native linguistic communication ( or a 2nd in L3 acquisition ) constitute what can be called significance transportation ( a term impersonal between semantic and matter-of-fact influence ) ( Odlin, 2005, p. 3 ) .

  • Cross-linguistic influence in surveies on 2nd linguistic communication acquisition

Cross-linguistic can hold assorted impacts on 2nd linguistic communication acquisition, if they are used right in a suited state of affairs by L2 scholars they have positive influence on L2 acquisition, but if scholars use them in incorrect state of affairs they have negative influence on L2 acquisition.

In 2nd linguistic communication acquisition, the cognition of the native linguistic communication ( L1 ) in acquisition of a foreign linguistic communication ( L2 ) can so hold a facilitation or inhabitancy consequence on the learner’s advancement in get the hanging a new linguistic communication. Traditionally, facilitation consequence is known as positive transportation, while suppression is considered negative transportation ( Isurin, 2005, p. 2 ) .

  • Cross-linguistic influence in surveies on first linguistic communication loss

Cross-linguistic influence is non limited on the 2nd linguistic communication acquisition, it may hold influence on scholars L1.

However, cross-linguistic influence can impact non merely the public presentation in a 2nd linguistic communication, but besides cause impairment of lingual accomplishments in a native linguistic communication when a talker loses contact with his ( her ) linguistic communication community or have a limited exposure to the native linguistic communication due to extended exposure to the 2nd linguistic communication ( Isurin, 2005, p. 2 ) .


As we can see in this corporate survey, cross-linguistic has assorted types and dimensions, that each of them has its particular consequence on learner’s foreign linguistic communication acquisition, both positively and negatively. In this survey with these collected informations about cross-linguistic we come to this point that how much this factor and its types have influence on L2 larning procedure, from early phases up to the terminal of this procedure. Cross-linguistic can sometimes diminish or suppress the velocity of L2 acquisition and besides addition or ease it.


Now, after reading this survey and its collected informations about cross-linguistics, we can come up with this decision that we as instructors should cognize and analyze more on cross-linguistics and pay much more attending to this of import factor while we are learning a foreign linguistic communication to our L2 scholars. No affair in which phase of developmental procedure our scholars are, we should be cognizant of possible cross-linguistic influences and be able to command them or assist our scholars to cut down or better them in their acquisition procedure.


Ringbom, H. ( 2007 ) . Cross-linguistic Similarity in Foreign Language Learning. United kingdom: Multilingual Matters.

Long, M.H. , & A ; Doughty, C.J. ( 2009 ) . The Handbook of Language Teaching. ( 1th ed. ) . United kingdom: Wiley Blackwell.

Isurin, L. ( 2005 ) . Cross-linguistic Transportation in Word Order: Evidence from L1 Forgetting and L2 Acquisition. Proceedings of the 4ThursdayInternational Symposium on Bilingualism, p. 2.

Richards, J.C, & A ; Schmidt, R. ( 2002 ) . Longman Dictionary of Teaching & A ; Applied Linguistics. ( 3th ed. ) . United kingdom: Pearson Education.

Odlin, T. ( 2005 ) . Cross Linguistic Influence and Conceptual Transfer: What are the Concepts? . Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 25, p. 3.

Angelis, G. ( 2011 ) . New Trends in Cross Linguistic Influence and Multilingualism Research. United kingdom: Multilingual Matters.

Saville-Troike, M. ( 2005 ) . Introducing Second Language Acquisition. ( 1th ed. ) . United kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Noordman-Vonk, W. ( 1979 ) . Retrieval from Semantic Memory. Berlin: Springer.

Ard, J. , & A ; Homburg, T. ( 1983 ) . Language Transportation in Language Learning. Rowley, MA: Newburg House.

Jarvis, S. , & A ; Odlin, T. ( 2000 ) . “ Morphological Type, Spatial Reference and Language Transfer” , Studies in Second Language Acquisition. 22-4.


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