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The Psychological Basis
Presenter: Sara Tehrani
M.A., TEFL, Tehran, Iran
Transfer in Learning Psychology
CA is a hybrid drawing on the sciences of linguistics &
One of the concerns of learning psychologists is the effects of
one learning task on a subsequent one. The observation that
prior learning effects subsequent learning leads to the
hypothesis of transfer .
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL BASIS FOUNDATIN OF CA IS
“the hypothesis that the learning of task A
will affect the subsequent learning of task
* The two “entities” associated in a learning task are:
Stimulus ( S )
Response ( R )
* The psychological basis of CA resides in the two
Red light need to decelerate Skinner’s
or stop the vehicle. Behaviourist
explanation of how
lg. learning is
Some problems of Definition
1) In “conditioning” the Rs are assumed to be available to the
In L2 learning the Rs themselves have to be learnt as
well as with which S they are to be associated.
2) CA is concerned with teaching rather than learning.
- Teaching involves the predetermination of what Ss & Rs are
to be associated.
- Learning are the set of decisions that can be quite arbitrary.
3) What constitute a S or a R in L2 learning?
Jakobovits sees S as a constituted of “ …… the environment
conditions that are antecedent to linguistic utterances” .
Richterich (1974) called S as a “communicative need”.
But lg. behavior is a two-way process, not only do we produce
utterances, we also receive them. So Jakobovit’s definition of S
will not serve perception :
Solution : “analysis by synthesis”
4) Corder (1973): “ Linguistic descriptions which aim at
accounting for lg. as a system, deal with sentences, not
One sentence underlies many concrete utterances:
Sentence: Pron. Aux. V. NP object
Utterance: 1) He can make cake.
2) we shall sing songs.
3) You should send flowers.
Therefore, in specifying Rs in lg, we must limit ourselves to their
abstract form , as sentences, rather than the substance as
Transfer Theory & CA
Lado (1957): “ individuals tend to transfer the
forms & meanings & the distribution of their native
lg. & culture to the foreign lg. & culture.”
Paradigm Task 1 Task 2 Task 3 Value
A S1 – R1 S2 - R1 S1 – R1 + T
B S1 – R1 S1 – R2 S1 – R1 - T
C S1 – R1 S2 – R2 S1 – R1 - T
“The effect of a given specifiable “ The effect of a specifiable
prior activity upon the learning of a interpolated activity
given test activity. “ retention of a previously learned
+T : positive transfer ( facilitation)
- T : negative transfer ( interference)
S1 – R1 S2 – R 1
Paradigm A obtains where L1 & L2 employ the same formal
device, but to serve different communication purposes in L1 & L2.
“ordinary learning” or “practice”
Example: L1 is English & L2 is Welsh:
(English) : Is she speaking German ? (Aux – Sub – V – Obj)
(Welsh) : ( is she in in speak German. ) (Aux – Sub – V – Obj)
S1 – R1 S1 – R 2
For production, this paradigm defines translation-equivalence:
that is, in L1 & L2, there is sameness of meaning accompanied
by difference of formal devices.
Example: L1 is German & L2 is Polish:
R1 (German): ( V. Subj. Obj. )
S: Question R2 (Polish) : ( Part. Sub. Obj. V.)
If you him
S1 – R1 S2 – R 2
Paradigm C is of little interest to CA, because of the non-identity
of both Ss & Rs in the two lg.s.: where there is no constant, only
variables, there are no grounds for comparison.
Lee (1968) remarks on the absence of L1 interference during his
learning of Chinese, where L1 & L2 were so very different that :
false associations interference
Scale of Difference
Differences of Rs
Similarity of Rs
of Sa & Rs
e.g: the use of
German & French.
e.g: Polish / German
example of word
e.g: Polish / Japanese. In Polish,
the particle is positioned sentence
initially to address a question,
while Japanese has particles in
sentence- final position.
Japanese Polish Russian English German
Final Initial particle “Do” initial, No
particle particle second S second particle
* The point to be made is that:
1) We must be prepared to quantify degrees of differences
between Rs in the two lg.s under CA.
2) A further task which falls to CA, is to establish the
relationship between degree of linguistic differences &
degree of learning difficulty.
CA & Behaviourist Learning Theory
The psychological basis of CA, is Transfer Theory,
elaborated & formulated within a S – R (Behaviourist)
theory of psychology.
Corder: “ one explanation of L2 errors is that the learner
is carrying over the habits of his mother tongue into L2
(a sort of habit – structure ).”
Cross – Association
George (1972) reconstructs the mental process of induction &
generalization which the L1 German learner of English seems
to be subject to.
Direct interference from the mother – tongue is not a useful
The Ignorance Hypothesis
Proposed by Newmark & Reibel (1968) to explain L2 learners’
errors: “The adult can want to say what he does not yet know
how to say (in L2) & he uses whatever means he has at this
disposal …” ignorance is not an alternative to
interference, but at best a precondition for it.
* Ignorance – without – interference
- avoidance strategy to paraphrase or use near -
* Interference – without - ignorance
- drilling to become error free / self correct
1- “ignorant by self-evaluation” The leaner deciding he
is ignorant of a L2 form, so incapable of producing it.
2- It is possible for different learners to be equally
ignorant of a given L2 structure, for e.g. when the two
learners have different L1s.
3- Those proposing the Ignorance hypothesis
conceive of learners to produce L2 patterns of
which they have no knowledge ! But the point is
that learners should have been “exposed” to L2
item before performing specific L2 item.