In What Way does the Mother Tongue Interfere in the Learning of a Foreign Language?



 Mother Tongue interferes in the teaching of foreign language in a number of ways. When a child learns his mother tongue there is no other language getting in the way but when he learns a foreign language (F.L) the habits of his mother tongue conflicts with those of the foreign tongue. Read More Teaching English (TEFL)  This conflict arises in all areas viz sounds, structures and vocabulary.

The distances of languages  is to be looked for—( 1 ) in pronunciation, or the ways of speaking the same words by different peoples; (2) in the vocabulary, or the use of the same words to express the same ideas in different languages ; (3) in grammatical structure, or the ways in which words are put together to make sentences. Read More Teaching English (TEFL)  So that in two languages we shall find that letters and words are pronounced rather differently, but that the words used are mostly the other, and that there is so much difference in the grammar—that is, in their ways of showing genders, numbers, and cases of nouns, or voices, moods, tenses, numbers, and persons of verbs, and of linking and arranging words and sentences. Thus, if we take mother tongue (SL) with that of English we find showing difference at its greatest and likeness at its least. Read More Teaching English (TEFL)  

Sounds: — Sound system in no two languages is same. Different languages have different sound system. Read More Teaching English (TEFL)  If the sound system of English and Hindi are compared, it will be seen that there are 20 vowels and diphthongs in English, whereas in Hindi, there are only ten. The English vowel sounds like eat, pots, bird, set-all do not occur in Hindi and also in other debnagari languages.

The initial vowel sound is ‘above’. The diphthongs in English [combination of two vowel sounds] cry, fair, toy, cow, deer not found in Hindi. Some English consonants, which also do not occur in Hindi are west, their, this, zebra and also the middle sound in measure.

Besides the difference in individual sounds in two languages there also occurs differences in stress, rhythm and intonation; Where English is stressed timed language, Hindi is syllable timed language.




These differences in sound, stress and rhythm and intonation makes it difficult for a native speaker to acquire English pronunciation. Read More Teaching English (TEFL)  The speech habit of mother tongue always gets in the way. He has to keep at bay the habits of his mother tongue and cultivate a fresh set of habits.

Structures: — the arrangement of words into sentences is different in the mother tongue and the foreign language. Read More Teaching English (TEFL)  The learner tends to build sentences in the foreign language in the same way as he does in his mother tongue.
e.g. We speak English—
In English object follows verb, but in mother tongue object is followed by verb.
Where are you going?
 In English interrogatives sentences are framed with question word. But it is not so in mother tongue.

Vocabulary: —
Students make mistakes because of their influence of the mother tongue e.g. they make mistakes in articles and prepositions they write.
“It is ten ‘o’ clock in my watch” instead of “It is ten ‘o’ clock by my watch.” Or, “I have watch” instead of “I have a watch”. Read More Teaching English (TEFL)  
Then there is a tendency to translate literally.
e.g. (I) The station has come. (We have reached the station.)
(2) Meet me behind the period. (Meet me after the period)
(3) The question does not take birth. (The question does not arise)
(4) She resembles with her mother. (She resembles her mother).
The interference of the mother tongue can be minimized by drilling the correct patterns to the pupils. The mistakes in grammar, pronunciation and usage should be pointed out to students and the correct forms drilled.