A Study of Negative Transfer of Native Language on Senior High School English Writing
Writing, an output skill, is attached importance by increasing teachers and students in English teaching of our nation. Growing scores have been added to writing in College Entrance Examination. Nevertheless, there is little effective progress in senior high school students’ writing capacity. What caused this phenomenon is that the current English study is always based on native language to a certain extant. Therefore, the influence of native language is hard to be avoided. In response to this phenomenon, I analyze the impact of mother tongue upon high school English writing specifically in accordance with the relative theories on language transfer.
This thesis beginning with the English writing of senior high school students with combination of relevant theories as Second Language Acquisition and previous research achievements, analyzes the errors in English caused by native language negative transfer quantitatively and qualitatively. I choose three different types of high schools, 75 students each school, 225 in total, to conduct questionnaire survey and a sampling test. The test result shows that senior high school students are interfered by native language at different degrees. In terms of forms, lexis, sentence structure and discourse, the errors resulted in mother tongue negative transfer are induced. Each sentence is attached by typical examples to find out the reasons leading to the common errors by mother tongue negative transfer. Finally, this thesis arrives at a conclusion that English teachers are supposed to train the writing of high school students in aspects to lexis, sentence writing patterns and structures for the sake of the improvement of writing ability as well as a better effect on English writing lesson.
This thesis is composed of six chapters.
Chapter one is the introduction describing the background, the significance and the correlative basic theories of this thesis, involving interlanguage theory, error analysis as well as transport theory, at last, the related researches at home and aboard.
Chapter two, the study design, introduces the object of study, research methods and procedures in the first place and the further explanations of the two methods included, the procedures of questionnaire and composition analysis. Afterwards, I sort out the errors in English writing and collect the data.
Chapter three presents the study results and analysis. In this chapter, the thesis analyzes and discusses the result of questionnaire and the data of error analysis to point out why mother tongue negative transfer impacts on English writing.
  chapter four, the core of the whole thesis, in which the negative transfer theory is united with instance analysis, analyzes the types and reasons of these errors from the aspects of form, lexis, sentence structure and discourse.
   Chapter five is applied to propound the suggestions, on the basis of negative transfer phenomenon, aiming at promoting writing ability of students and helping English teachers avoid such errors effectively by lowering the negative influence from mother tongue.
   Chapter six, the last part, states the limitation of this thesis and the consideration of further study.
Key words: negative transfer of mother tongue; English writing; inspiration

摘要 1
Abstract 3
目录 5
Introduction 6
Chapter I literature review 8
1.1 Transfer and language transfer 8
1.2 Error analysis 10
1.3 Interlanguage theory 12
Chapter II Research Method 14
2.1 The Purpose of This Research 14
2.2 The Study Object 14
2.3 The Research Method 15
2.3.1 Questionnaire Survey 15
2.3.2 Composition Analysis 16
Chapter III Data Analysis 18
3.1 The Data Analysis of Questionnaire 18
3.2 Data Analysis of Error in Composition 19
3.3 The Survey Summary of Native Language Negative Transfer 22
Chapter IVThe Instance Analysis of Native Language Transfer in High School Students’ Writing 23
4.1.1 Artical Error 24
4.1.2 Verb Form Error 25
4.1.3 Noun Form Error 27
4.1.4 Pronoun Form Error 28
4.4 Lexical Transfer Errors 29
4.2.1 Misapplication of Parts of Speech 29
4.2.2 Misapplication of the Meaning of Vocabulary 33
4.2.3 Inappropriate Collocation 34
4.3 The Transfer Errors in Sentence Structure 37
4.3.1 Lack of Conjunctions and False Arrangement of Simple Sentences 37
4.3.4 Misapplication of Subordinate and Coordinate Conjunctions 42
4.3.5 Misapplication of Negation 42
4.3.6 Word Disorder 43
4.4 Transfer Errors at Discourse Level 45
4.4.1 Negative Transfer of Discourse Pattern 45
4.4.2 Negative Transfer of Cohesion 47
Chapter V English Pedagogical Implications Summarized from Previous Study 48
5.1 Adopt a Positive Attitude towards the Errors Rooting from the Negative Transfer of Native Language 49
5.3 Enforcing Cross-cultural Communication Awareness 53
5.4 Enforcing Language Input through Reading and Reciting 54
5.4.1 Enforcing reading 54
5.4.2 Enforcing reciting 55
Bibliography 58
Appendix Ⅰ 61
Appendix II 63
Appendix III 64
Appendix IV 65


The New English Curriculum Standard was put forward, explicating that senior English, as the crucial curriculum to enhance language ability and to cultivate comprehensive quality education of student, is supposed to develop both students’ comprehensive language application ability and the three following capacities emphatically including the ability of using English to communicate appropriately; of obtaining and processing information; of analyzing and settling a matter (2002). Thinking and expression lay a foundation for the abilities mentioned above. Expression ability embraces the ability of expressing orally and in written form, among which English written form is also can be thought as a kind of extremely vital one,. Ding Wangdao, one famous linguistician, once suggested that writing plays a large role in English learning process (丁往道,1994). As a result, the capacity of using English to communicate is ought to be seen as one of the main purposes in lessons.
Remaining a core part of College Entrance Examination, the scores of writing has been increased from 10% to 20% over recent years. Analyzed from the College Entrance Examination results, students’ writing ability are still at a lower level. Simple sentences, superfluous single sentences, erroneous usage of words and sentences and the vestiges of Chinese thinking mode appear in students’ usual writing (须玮菁,2010). Chinese students’ writing lags far behind their competence in grammar, vocabulary and reading (2002,蔡基刚). From the perspective of an student-teacher, I found that the great mass of students have a fearful sense for writing, as giving rise to the unsatisfied feeling for their writing involuntary.
Inferring from above circumstances, we have got to admit the truth that English learning is limited by mother tongue beyond doubt. In current English teaching, however, Chinese students are still weak in writing. English teachers in China are unable to realize and analyze the errors caused by native language negative transfer. Therefore, most of English teachers just go through the motions in their teaching, which plagues students with negative transfer of mother tongue severely. Naturally, the writing ability has been left behind.
With the purpose of the enhancement of writing, numerous experts joining hands with teachers achieved remarkably in their researches, nonetheless, the results are far from satisfactory. Linguists abroad experimented much to confirm the interference on writing. Over recent years, much progress has been achieved in studying the negative transfer of mother tongue. For example, the majority of experts have focused on writing style but failed in the differences between the two languages. Ti is uneasy to decide the exact degree of interference only with qualitative analysis. In addition, the domestic empirical studies in this regard usually select undergraduates or adults as their research objects, laying particular stress on CET4 or CET6. in consequence, little guiding significance was showed for English writing teaching. In order to work out more effective approaches and strategies to motivate students to learn, I , absorbing and benefiting from the basis of the former achievements, did the empirical research on native language negative transfer in senior high school English writing, aiming at investigating whether high school students depend on mother tongue thinking, the common errors engendered by negative transfer and the reasons. And then, we are capable to provide a feasible teaching strategy which is suited to high school writing, as is of help to writing teaching. During the study process, I analyze various layers of the negative transfer occurring among high school students in detail with error analysis and interlanguage theory, through which English teachers are capable of taking a right attitude toward the errors appearing in learning and of differentiating the dissimilarities between mother tongue and English, consciously. Accordingly, the writing ability can be improved; the English thinking can be shaped; the solid foundation can be laid. English teachers are also equipped with strong consciousness of discovering and settling problems simultaneously.

Chapter I literature review
The studies on the negative transfer of native language have become prosperous after decadence in more than half of century. Let’s retrospect these several theories involved both domestic and overseas during the phase.
Transfer and language transfer
Transfer is a psychological term originally, referring to how received knowledge, technical ability, learning method and attitude affect new knowledge, new received skills and the way tackling new problems (陈琦,刘儒德,1997). For instance, studying a foreign language is conductive to another one; reading competence is able to contribute to successful writing; both of these are transfer. Not only has such, transfer contained mother skills, emotion and attitude as well besides knowledge transfer. Therefore, transfer issue is not only confined to knowledge learning but many other fields of learning.(郑大均,1999).
H. Ellis defined transfer as a hypothesis that learning task A will exert effect on task B (H.Ellis, 1965). James replaced task A and task B in H. Ellis’ definition with L1 and L2 (James, 1980). There are various versions of language transfer as a matter of fact. For some, they consistent with this perspective that language transfer is one kind of mode studying language acquisition, while others nominate language transfer as an output strategy. (俞理明,2004). Nevertheless, the people being recognized and accepted widely in the field of linguistics is Odlin who considered that transfer means a kind of cross-linguistic influence brought about by the similarity or discrepancy between target language and any other acquired partially and entirely, language (Odlin, 1989). He also pointed out transfer is reflected not only in learning errors-negative transfer but also in facilitation - positive transfer. That means positive transfer refers to using these knowledge with received language knowledge, actually in learning process. Conversely, negative transfer is also called interference, distracted by which students will make errors in writing.
Regardless of how differently we define transfer, we have to admit, a cognitive activity, is a mental processing on one’s own initiative. Profound studies have been made by multitudinous psychologist at home and abroad, among which cognitive structure theory proposed by Ausubel represents a mainstream discussing transfer from the view of cognitive viewpoint, cognitive structure theory sticks to the point that transfer is a process integrating old and new experience, achieved by means of assimilation, adaptation and reconstruction, the essence of which is the interplay is linked with relevant concepts in the existing cognitive structures to form new cognitive structure thereby (须玮菁,2010).
In the light of its effects, transfer can be divided into positive and negative transfer. If one sort of learning facilitates the other one, we call it positive transfer. If utilized appropriately, students will have the ability of understanding the rest by analogy. Negative transfer, also called passive influence, has a negative effect upon language learning. Negative transfer theory, dating back to the 1950s, has contributed to language learning and study. American structuralist Robert Lado(1975), the representatives of this period, hold the view that language transfer impedes language acquisition primarily. He suggested, in Cross-cultural Linguistics, the key to know how difficult learning language it is lies in comparing native language with foreign language.
In accordance with sequence, transfer can be divided into forward transfer and backward transfer. For example, when learning A happens before learning B, we call the effect from A on B forward transfer. Rather, backward transfer means influence on B from A.
The two transfers above are combined to produce four forms - positive forward transfer, positive backward transfer, negative backward transfer, negative forward transfer. For instance, you learn reading first, then writing, and the improvement of reading competence conduces the formation of writing competence. This way, there is a positive forward transfer situation between reading and writing. As another example, Chinese phoneme has a negative impact upon latter English pronunciation, as is called negative forward transfer. (张大均,1999).
Language transfer, as one kind of transfers, has been the focus for psychologists and linguists to study and argue. Common elements theory, proposed by Thordike el al, suggests that the more common elements and similarities, the easier to produce positive transfer, on the contrary, negative transfer takes place. If this theory is applied in language transfer, the more common elements between two languages, it will be easier for positive transfer to happen, otherwise, negative transferwill occur. For instance, Chinese, one part of the Sino-Tibetan linguistic system, share little common elements with English ,which brings about the mutual interference, Ausubel held the point, however, it is unpractical and ineffective to shun the interlanguage and the transfer role played by mother tongue. In other words, the native Chinese speaker will be interfered with the negative transfer from Chinese undoubtedly as to construct their own preposition and language competence structure with the purpose of approaching English (曾鹏,2005).
1.2 Error analysis
Error analysis, reigning over the world in the 1970s, displaced the contrastive theory analysis comparing the differences between native language and target language to predict error (Fries, 1952). Contrastive analysis hypothesis proposed by behaviorism scholar - Lado91957), supports what causes learning difficulties is the dissimilitude between native and target language, whose effect is negative setting learning back. And yet contrastive analysis hypothesis has not been proved in the area of empirical research. Many a experiment have demonstrated that language difference is the root reason leading learning difficulty. Error analysis will supersede contrastive analysis for its limitation. Nevertheless, this doesn’t signify there is not any mitigating virtue in contrastive analysis. when explaining masses of problems in second language learning, James emphasized the mutual complementation between the two (James, 1980). Corder formulated this view in The second Significance of Learner’s Error (Corder, 1967). Corder regarded error as an indispensable part in learning second language. Learners would not promote their language ability without the feedback stemming from the external world supposing they did not err in learning, on account of which their language learning process would be hindered. Corder laid stress on the errors appeared in study showing a great help for teachers to realize students’ current mastered language system, the achieved degree as well as learning strategies and procedure. Corder’s thoughts have been of importance for us to discuss students’ language development.
Error analysis is considered to be of significance, according to which Corder pinpointed the value the errors possessed which incarnated in the following aspects: 1, Teachers are able to understand how students do in learning; 2, Researchers are capable of awaring the language ;earning process and the learning strategies adopted by students; 3, As to students, they can judge whether they make a right assumption based in this 9Corder, 1967). Corder divided error analysis into five procedures:
① Select, collect and analyze linguistic data: During certain stages, collect some linguistic data from foreign language learners on purpose that can be written exercises, oral expression as well as listening survey. Written data is utilized in this thesis.
② Identify and validate error: conforming what is error is extremely crucial in error analysis. we are supposed to distinguish whether the sentences the students said meet the criterion or not in accordance with standard syntax and communicative context. Corder classified the errors produced in second language acquisition, the former of which is commonly called error occurring in learning frequently which is impossible to be corrected by students themselves; the latter is named as mistake engendered on account of tension or poor shape of learners but not related to language ability ( Corder, 1974). Brown, however, thought it is tough to differentiate mistake and error in virtue of subjective approach (Brown, 2002). Expressional error is the main form among a great deal of high school students’ errors appearing so continually beyond learners’ ability which may not be defined as carelessness or negligence as to evolve into system error. In view of the reasons above, the thesis discriminates, both are the research objects, the difference between error and mistake.
③ The category of errors: a large amount of methods are capable of being applied to classify errors (such as Dulay, Burt and Krashen, 1982; James, 2001), but in the perspective of Tames, all these categories are excessively simplex and it would be better if utilized together.
Error can be divided into global and partial error standing on the facet of evaluation according to Dulay, Burt and Krashen (1982). Global error involves the biased one caused by the breach of the whole sentence structure, the interrelation of clauses and the connection among the main components, such as misapplication or missing of conjunction, reversing of main phrases and overgeneralization of syntax rules. Partial error refers to the biased error existing in one constituent or in one clause of its complex sentence, for example, misusing or missing the suffix of verb and noun, or article and auxiliary. Nevertheless, by no means dose it mean absoluteness in the above distinguishment, because the global error in one sentence may become the partial one in another sentence if the former is inserted into a complex sentence.
Overt and covert error are thought as two categories of error in terms of Corder. The former contains some kind of evident errors in grammar and vocabulary, for instance, the errors with respect to plurals, less sensitive to cause, spelling, tense, sentence structure, the mixing noun and verb as well as adjective and adverb. Covert error refers to this kind of error.
1.3 Interlanguage theory
Proposed by S. Pit Corder and Larry Selinker, the concept of Interlingua was established as learners’ independent system of the second language which is of neither the native language nor the second language, but a continuum or approximation from his native language to the target language. What learners produce, correct or wrong, are evidence of the approximation from their first language to the target language. From then on by means of various data collection methods and analysis, researchers have been making painstaking efforts in the hope that some universal developmental sequence of second language learners’ interlingua would be discovered(戴炜栋2002, 164-165). According to Spelunker (1972), Interlingua refers to a system that the learners of the second language are acquiring and using at a particular stage of learning.
The phenomenon referred to have been used by different researchers. The main views about the errors in the Interlingua theory are following: errors in the language acquisition are made rules somewhat in the target language, not system rules of the language are constructed by the learners themselves. In other words, to the learners’ of the native language, any sentence written is grammatical and right (Corder, 1971:32). Nowadays, many researchers think
errors are the symbols of language development. For errors, there are not any rules to obey and learners have mastered and know how to deal with the rules of the target language correctly. Selinker assumes that Interlingua is a natural language and systematic throughout in its development. The first language reflects that the learners try to construct a linguistic system and approaches in learning a Second language. During Second Language Acquisition learning, the learners’ First Language Learning has undergone different steps of language development, because the learners go through from zero knowledge to perfect knowledge in language learning.
Selinker (1972) in accordance to the Interlingua Theory, the knowledge on the target language acquired; the learners not only mix simply language combining the target language and the mother tongue but consist a series of systems with specific characteristics. With the development of language learning and the advancement of the learners, the Interlingua moves closer and closer to the target language. Some important examples of the term “interlingua” actually reveal the nature of Interlingua itself in a certain extent. The Interlingua system, as its name suggests, is neither L1 nor L2 but something in between.
Contrastive Analysis provides theoretical basis for “what to teach” and “how to teach”, and its research objects are the learners’ mother tongue and target language. The Interlingua theory is used to refer to a shift from teaching perspective to learning perspective; its language system is regarded to be independent, equal to learners’ mother tongue system. In other words, Interlingua studies not only refer to learners’ mother tongue system, but the relationship between learners’ Interlingua system and the learners’ own learning process. Interlingua study observes the complete changing in the study of second language acquisition. When Ellis (1994: 351) evaluates the Interlingua theory, he points out that the Interlingua theory is a suitable beginning in Second Language Acquisition research, as it aims at providing explaining theories for Second Language Acquisition. 1.4 The Domestic and Overseas Relational Research on Language Transfer1.4.1 Domestic Research on Language Transfer1.4.2 Overseas Research on Language Transfer.

1.4 The Domestic and Overseas Relational Research on Language
1.4.1 Domestic Research on Language Transfer
In our nation, numerous linguists have done lots of studies in the function of mother language for second language acquisition. Some analyzed the errors from students composition corpus and others stated the influence native language exerts on foreign language writing. Nevertheless, all of them make a comment on the negative transfer of mother tongue.
Zhang Congde (1994) analyzed and argued the errors occurring at the level of form, phoneme and lexis. Meanwhile, he pointed out that the errors as the result of native language transfer composed the main reason why high school students committed. In The Cultural Transfer of Mother Language in English Writing, Long Yue (2003) proposed that Chinese students are regularly not able to realize their borrowing mother language thinking and that they treat things and express ideas from Chinese mode. Native culture commonly exert a negative transfer on students’ foreign language learning and writing, as means the negative transfer stemming from native culture will interfere with language learning. Zhuang Ling (2002) supported in Native Language Transfer and Translation Studying that foreign language learners especially beginners usually solve the difficulties they encounter in foreign language learning with the aid of the knowledge on native language. Shu Dingfang (1996) also hold the view that 51% of the errors committed by students whose native language is Chinese come from native language interference. Du Shichun (1985) thinks that it is impossible to avoid mother tongue interference during language learning which always occur in the differences and plausible points between two languages.
Liu Donghong (2002) pointed out more than 20 phenomena on mother language negative transfer in A Survey of Picture Composition of College Students involving 21 typical error types, such as sub-verb agreement, tense error, mechanical application of Chinese words, conjunction omission, misapplication of non-finite verb,etc, among which 16 of them are with the influence of native language except 5 other types: spelling mistakes, misusing words, etc.
Fa Zhongnan (2005) also thinks that second language learning will be affected by native language. His studies demonstrated that with the influence of mother tongue Chinese students have a tendency of finding a corresponding words or phrase when they use words or constructing sentences, as gives a rise to Chinesization, the reason of which lies in the confusion of the lexical or syntax rules between Chinese and English. The main factors causing negative transfer exist in the discrepancy between the two languages, which has been confirmed by Fang Zhongnan through the theories of error analysis.
In Dynamic Study of Influence of Mother Tongue in the Process of Foreign Language Writing , Guo Chunfang and Liu Fang (1997) believe that the functions of native language in the process of foreign language output are: the logical inference of composition contenr; the analysis of linguistic form; the retrieve of relevant foreign words, phrase and sentence.
Wen Qiufang and Guo Chunjie also have made the related study on native language thinking and foreign language writing ability and pointed out that the latter is related to the former. The students with a better capacity of expression rely less on native language while someone owning poorer ability count more on mother language.

Chapter II Research Method
2.1 The Purpose of This Research
The purpose of this research is to enable teachers and students have a reasonable attitude toward the errors in English learning and realize the similarities as well as differences between Chinese and English based on the study on the negative transfer of native language for high school students’ writing. As a result, their English thinking will take shape and writing competence will be advanced. More importantly than all of these, they can benefit from it no matter in College Entrance Examination or even in the future career. In addition, other fraternities can also get some help in real sense from the study results.
The following questions need to be solved in this study:
1. How do high school students depend upon their native language in writing?
2. Which negative transfers will appear in English writing currently?
3. What’s the root reason causing the negative transfer in high school English writing?
4. What target strategies are supposed to be adopted to avoid mother tongue negative transfer?
2.2 The Study Object
225 senior students, extracted from three schools in different types in Leshan, are the subjects of this study. The below table describes the specific distribution and the numbers of boys and girls. (Table 2.1).

Table 2.1 The distribution of selected boys and girls
School Boys Girls summation
Leshan A senior high school 37 38 75
Leshan B senior high school 35 40 75
Leshan C senior high school 36 39 75
The sum 108 117 225

For the sake of the reliability and the validity of this study, there are several facets I have considered synthetically for the subjects: in the first place, all the three different types schools are city level, where students are scattered around various districts whose English levels are diverse, as a consequence of this, they are suitable to be selected as the objects owning to the representativeness; secondly, the ratio of the two genders are flat in this study, dedicated to ease the effects produced by the differences between genders and thoughts. The ratio balance is devoted to the efficient reflection of the overall conditions, meanwhile, its rationality and representativeness can also be kept commendably.
2.3 The Research Method
In the interest of its exact reliability and validity, quantitative and qualitative analysis is employed unitedly in this thesis. Quantitative analysis concerns mainly the distribution of error types in students’ writing. Qualitative analysis accounts for the reasons leading to the wrong outcome at length and how do the students depend upon native language in the light of questionnaire, responding to the four questions posed at the beginning of this chapter.
I put two methods to use in this thesis: ① questionnaire ② composition analysis
2.3.1 Questionnaire Survey
I have consulted abundant references when designing the questionnaire, and have completed and handed within twenty minutes under the supervision of the course teacher. As a matter of the fact, this questionnaire is endowed with good reliability and validity.
The questionnaire is designed to find out whether the students are able to be independent from native language during writing. I distributed questionnaires to the 225 students whose compositions were selected. This questionnaire is composed of twenty questions. Each of the questions involves five options with different point : “Always” (ten points); “often” (Eight points); “Sometimes” (six points); “Seldom” (four points); “Never” (two points), and the aggregate score is one hundred points.


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