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FOSSILIZATION

THE DEFINITION Fossilization, or the interruption of learning, is recognized as a widespread phenomenon in second language acquisition. Although we have descriptions of fossilized interlanguages (Agnello, 1977; Bean, 1990; Bruzzese, 1977; Sotillo, 1987), researchers have not identified the linguistic behavior of those whose second language acquisition has ceased. This study seeks to identify some characteristics of linguistic behavior that distinguishes fossilized non-native speakers from those who are still learning.

Vygotskian theory suggests that differences might be found between these two groups in performance.

Four hypotheses, concerning (1) the use of imitation, o (2) the ability to learn short-term, o (3) the use of object- and other-regulation, and
o

(4) the use of private speech were tested with two groups of English as a second language speakers,

one fossilized and one non-fossilized on tasks which challenge the linguistic abilities of the speakers. THE CAUSES The causes of fossilization have been classified into internal causes, external causes and causes explained by the interactional model.

The internal causes have something to do with biological factors and physiological factors.

a) Critical Period Hypothesis / Biological Factors~

The most representative theory here is the critical period hypothesis. According to this theory, there is a period during which language can be acquired more easily than at any other time.

According to the biologist Lenneberg, the critical period lasts until puberty, which is around 12 or 13 years old. After the critical period, complete mastery of a language will be really difficult.

b) External Cause is explained by Schuman.

The degree of a learner's acculturation to the second language group will control the degree of his/her Second Language Acquisition.

According to this model, fossilization occurs when a learner's acculturation to the target culture stops.

c) Interactional Model

According

to

this

model,

it

is

conversational

interaction

that

determines whether a component of the learner's interlanguage system will cause fossilization or lead to progress towards second language learning. For example, during the interaction between teachers and students, positive feedback from the teacher will be an encouragement for the students. However, if there are some errors in the student's language which are not pointed out by the teacher, fossilization will take place.

Based on the studies of fossilization; the thesis investigates different kinds of errors made by college students in their English compositions.

The errors are classified into code errors and use errors from a communicative perspective.

Those errors are then identified and categorized to trace their causes. The author found that after two-year English study, non-English majors still make the same kind of errors in their written production and the most common errors in these students' compositions are code errors.

The author then makes an effort to analyze the causes of those errors. The implications of the study of fossilization for college English teaching have been explored in this thesis.

THE

SUGGESTIONS

TO

SOLVE

THE

PROBLEM

OF

LANGUAGE

FOSSILIZATION
a. Quality input should be emphasized

The correctness of teacher talk should be guaranteed; language materials given to the students should be both authentic and idiomatic and multimedia should also be used in the language classroom.

b. Teachers should provide necessary assistance.

The topics of the composition should be selected with care and the students should be given some references so that they can get enough language to express their idea. In sum, in order to deal with fossilization, teachers have to give timely and purposeful help.

c. Ways of error correction should be improved.

Some practical techniques for correcting writing are offered in this part.

d. Students should get rid of bad learning habits.

The use of e-dictionaries is one of them. Another bad learning habit is that the students prefer to use Chinese rather than English in classroom activities. Besides, students' bad punctuation habit has also been mentioned.

e. The grammar awareness should be aroused.

students' knowledge of grammar needs to be merged.

f. The sixth suggestion is that English idioms and idiomatic use should be emphasized so that the students can understand those fixed expressions correctly and use them properly in production. g. The correct pronunciation should be emphasized to ensure correct spelling.
h. The dictation should be used in language teaching and learning.