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Cross-linguistic influence in the Writing of Preliterate Low-proficiency learners

Author Affiliations

  • 1 Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Technology, Gandipet Main Road,, near CBIT, Gandipet, Hyderabad, Telangana 500075, INDIA

Int. Res. J. Social Sci., Volume 3, Issue (10), Pages 1-5, October,14 (2014)


Experience has taught us that second language acquisition (SLA) is strongly influenced by the learners’ first language (L1). Research has proven that literacy in the first language can have a positive influence on the acquisition of L2 literacy. For learners who are not literate in their native language reading and writing in English is an ordeal. This study attempts to examine the relationship between low proficiency preliterate high school level English as Second Language learners’ writing competence in L2 and the cross-linguistic influence found in their writing. Of secondary interest is the correlation to the lack of script/literacy in their L1. This is done by examining errors made by low proficiency ‘Patkar’ students in their written essays. It centers on the concept of an adequate literacy base for the writing of learners who have not experienced a tradition of literacy at home. The researcher attempts to examine and describe cross-linguistic influence in the writing of low-proficiency preliterate learners and determine how mother tongue can influence the acquisition of English. Essays written by such students were analyzed for sub-stratum transfer. Incorrect usage due to interference from their native language as well as their low levels of proficiency was observed. Some recommendations to reduce negative sub-stratum transfer in writing are made. It is suggested that teachers can provide a ‘scaffolding’ to link challenging content in academics to the cultural resources that are rich in myth and oral literature that such students bring to school. The findings of this study point at issues that should be addressed by policy makers and teachers which could lead to more inclusive classrooms enabling participation, and enhancing learning achievements of learners from various backgrounds. Thus the implications of this study can contribute towards the need for school-based ethnographic research.


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