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Feb 28, 2016 10:08
The main empirical problems with this theory are 3:
1) Overprediction: it predict errors that don`t occur.
2) Errors are not always symmetrical: for instance English learners can have problems in learning French object pronoun but French learners may not experience the same difficulties in learning English object pronoun
3) Underprediction: it doesn`t predict mistake that do happen.
Also, only about the 30 percent of the errors are due to the L1 transfer.
Another -more reliable- approach which takes into account the role of first language in second language acquisition is Error Analysis. A key finding of error analysis has been that many learner errors are produced by learners making faulty inferences about the rules of the new language, therefore it is the L2 learners interlanguage to be the focus of this analysis. This theory distinguishes between random mistakes and systematic errors which reveals the state of the learner interlanguage.
But even this theory failed in explaining certain kind of errors as the things that students do right. Nowadays the general theory of transfer has been revised in favor of a less determinant influence of the first language over the second language acquisition. The key concept of this new interest of the L1 role are:
1) Markedness hierarchy: the less used forms to express a meaning are the more difficult to learn
2) Transferability which refers to the claim that L1 transfer is partly a function of learners’ intuitions about how transferable certain phenomena are
3) The interlanguage identification which is the learner judgment over the transferibility (distance close/ neutral specific)