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1. History/Background 2. What is Interlanguage? 3. Features/Charecteristics 4. Interlanguage Continum 5. Language Devices Interlanguage and Universal Grammar Interlanguage Theory and Psycholinguistics Fossilization

6. Pedagogical/Teaching Implications 7. Weaknesses Conclusion


1. History /Background
The term interlanguage was first coined by American linguist Larry Selinker (1969) to explicate the linguistic stage second language learners go through during the process of mastering the target language.The interlanguage is viewd as a seperate linguistic system clearly different from both the learners native language and target language being learned but linked to both (NL) and (TL) by interlingual identifications in the perception of the learner.

2. What is Interlanguage?
"Interlanguage reflects the learner's evolving system of rules, and results from a variety of processes, including the influence of the first language ('transfer'), contrastive interference from the target language, and the overgeneralization of newly encountered rules." (David Crystal, A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics, 4 In a broad sense, Interlanguage refers to the intermediate status of the second language learners system between his mother tongue and the target language.

Interlanguage is symbolically a halfway house between the first language (L1) and the TL, hence 'inter.' The L1 is ostensibly the source language that provides the initial building materials to be gradually blended with materials taken from the TL, resulting in new forms that are neither in the L1, nor in the TL" An interlanguage is the term for a dynamic linguistic system that has been developed by a learner of a second language (or L2) who has not become fully proficient yet but is approximating the target language: preserving some features of their first language (or L1), or


overgeneralizing target language rules in speaking or writing the target language and creating innovations.

The approaches to the study of interlanguage, agree on two basic characteristics of interlanguage systems: interlanguages are systematic (systematicity either in the form of learning strategies the learners employ or linguistic rules that govern the learners' grammars), and dynamic (interlanguages keep changing until the target language system is fully acquired). The scope of these approaches is also common: interlanguage is seen as a kind of interim grammar gradually progressing towards the target language grammar. Morpheme studies were employed to describe the systematicity of interlanguage systems and also the various stages of interlanguage development until the target form is acquired. The interlanguage theory was inductively derivative from studies following Error Analysis, the view that by analyzing learners errors we can predict the linguistic stage that a learner is at . However, Error Analysis as a mode of inquiry was limited in its scope and concentrated on what learners did wrong rather than on what made them successful. Interlanguage theory based on the assumptions mentioned here :

During L2 acquisition, the learner formulates the hypotheses about the system/rules of TL. The rules are viewed as mental grammars that construct the Interlanguage system. These grammars are permeable. They are exposed to influences both from outside the learner, and form the learners internal processing. This suggests that the learners performance is variable. These


grammars are transitional. The learner changes his grammar from one time to another by adding rules, deleting rules, and restructuring the whole system. Thus, in every stage of learning there is an Interlanguage. Through the gradual process of checking and rechecking hypotheses, the learner keeps changing his Interlanguage until the target language system is fully acquired/ shaped. This gradual progression naturally implies to an Interlanguage Continuum.

The above figure suggests that Interlanguage is a dynamic phenomenon which can be illustrated with a continuum, of which one end is L1 and the other end is L2. The learner constantly moves along the Interlanguage continuum of which the destination is the complete mastery of the TL.

Interlanguage and Universal Grammar
"A number of researchers pointed out quite early on the need to consider interlanguage grammars in their own right with respect to principles and parameters of Universal Grammar, arguing that one should not compare L2 learners to native speakers of the L2 but instead consider whether interlanguage grammars are natural language systems L2 learners may arrive at representations which indeed account for the L2 input, though not in the same way as the grammar of a native speaker. The issue, then, is whether the interlanguage representation is a possible grammar, not whether it is identical to the L2 grammar." Interlanguage Theory and Psycholinguistics "[T]he significance of interlanguage theory lies in the fact that it is the first attempt to take into


account the possibility of learner conscious attempts to control their learning. It was this view s that initiated an expansion of research into psychological processes in interlanguage development whose aim was to determine what learners do in order to help facilitate their own learning, i.e. which learning strategies they employ (Griffiths & Parr, 2001). It seems, however, that the research of Selinker's learning strategies, with the exception of transfer, has not been taken up by other researchers." Within the Latent Psychological Structure there exist several important notions:

'Fossilization' (Selinker, 1972 referred to as 'incompleteness' Selinker recognized Fossilization as an important mechanism of the Latent Psychological Structure. He assumes that many learner will not achieve the total mastery of L2, but will stop somewhere in the middle with their language still affected by errors. Fossilization can take place at any stage of the learning process, even at a very early age. According to him, out of all the L2 learners, only 5% of them are thoroughly successful as to be able to reach the end of the Interlanguage Continuum. And when the learners stop progressing any further, their Interlanguage is said to have fossilized. However, the successful learner doesnt fossilize, rather constantly moves along the Interlanguage continuum.

The five psycholinguistics processes of this latent psychological structure that shape


interlanguage hypothesized. These rules are the product of five main cognitive processes: i. Overgeneralisation. Some of the rules of the interlanguage system may be the result


of the overgeneralisation of specific rules and features of the target language. ii) Transfer of Training. Some of the components of the interlanguage system may result from transfer of specific elements via which the learner is taught the second language. iii) Strategies of Second Language Learning. Some of the rules in the learner's interlanguage may result from the application of language learning strategies as a tendency on the part of the learners to reduce the TL [target language] to a simpler system (Selinker, 1972:219). iv) Strategies of Second Language Communication. Interlanguage system rules may also be the result of strategies employed by the learners in their attempt to communicate with native speakers of the target language. v) Language Transfer. Some of the rules in the interlanguage system may be the result of transfer from the learners first language

6.Pedagogical / educational Implications:

The theory of Interlanguage has valuable implications for the teaching as are the following: 1.The study of Interlanguage is systematic and universal by nature. Like the Innate Theory of L1 acquisition, Interlanguage theory considers the learner as an active participator, since he is capable of constructing rules from the data he encounters. 2. The study of Interlanguage can help to determine what the learner already knows at a certain point of time and what he has to be taught when and how in a particular second language teaching programme. 3. The concept of Interlanguage has liberated language teaching methods. It has paved the way for Communicative Teaching Approach. Since errors are considered a natural part of the learning process, teachers now tend to use teaching activities which do not require constant


supervision of the learners language. Consequently, group work and pair work has become suitable means for language learning these days.

Despite many constructive sides, some of the assumptions of Interlanguage have been criticized for their weaknesses: 1.A foremost Interlanguage criticism relates to its limited explanatory power. The theory assumes that the linguistic stage that a learner is at can be predicted by analyzing his errors. However, Error Analysis as a mode of inquiry is limited in its scope as it concentrates on what the learner did wrong rather than on what made him successful. It is often impossible to identify the unitary source of an error. 2. Error Analysis gives the learner base for improvements of his Interlanguage rules. But researches confirm that too much correction can lead to a lack of motivation and thereby leading many correct utterances unnoticed. Thus the learner needs to be restricted to important errors only. 3. The theories of Interlanguage cannot determine how the exact position of the learner in between L1 and L2 will be interpreted.

Interlanguage is, by far the strongest contender amongst the second language learning theories. The theory of Interlanguage was the first major attempt to explain the process of second language learning in terms of mentalist perspectives. After its introduction by Selinker, it has been gradually developed by the hands of numerous researchers. At this time, it has become


much refined and also contributed a lot in developing many other theories. Although vague in many points, it has been able to provide significant suggestions for the theories of second language learning.


Wikipedia. 2011. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 2 September 2011 <>. (ZhaoHong Han, "Interlanguage and Fossilization: Towards an Analytic Model."Contemporary Applied Linguistics: Language Teaching and Learning, ed. by Li Wei and Vivian Cook. Continuum, 2009) (Lydia White, "On the Nature of Interlanguage Representation." The Handbook of Second Language Acquisition, ed. by Catherine Doughty and Michael H. Long. Blackwell, 2003) (Vinja Pavii TaCrystal, David. A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. 6th ed. Blackwell: Oxford, Error Analysis. Glottopedia. 2011. Glottopedia. 2 September 2011 < > Ellis, R. Second language acquisition. Oxford: OUP, 1997. 2008

Interlanguage. Urs Drmller. 2011. Urs Drmller. 2 September 2011 <, Vocabulary Learning Strategies and Foreign Language Acquisition. Interlanguage. Multilingual Matters, 2008)