International Journal of Language & Linguistics

ISSN 2374-8850 (Print), 2374-8869 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/ijll

Mother Tongue Syntactical Influence in a ESL Class
Mahendran Maniam, Hema Vanita Kesevan

This study seeks to find out the syntactical influence of the L1 (Tamil) grammar that the students of Tamil schools use interchangeably in their daily writing of L2, namely English. Many extensive researches have been carried out to study first language interference and its effect on second language learners. It has been said that the transfer of mother tongue (native) language is one of the major sources for L2 learners to make mistakes in their writing (Lightbown & Spada, 1999). Meanwhile Ellis (1997) refers to interference as ‘transfer’ which he defines as being “the influence that the learner’s exerts over the acquisition of an L2” This study followed a mixture of qualitative and quantitative survey research design, the purpose of which is to find out the influence of L1 linguistic items in the writing of English (L2), among 96 standard 5 students of a selected Tamil school in Malaysia. The research revealed that the use of wrong syntactical order was quite rampant in the analysis of the samples’ L2 writing. It has been stated in the Literature of this study that the Tamil language and the English language have different syntactical order. From the data collected, we could observe that 21.9% or approximately 21 subjects had used the syntactical structure of the Tamil language in their L2 writing. The 21 students made a total of 27 errors in their sentences.

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