Sunday, December 18, 2011

Interlanguage Theory


None learns a language overnight. Rather he/she develops it gradually. This is also applicable for both first language and second language learners. Usually the linguistic journey of a L2 learner begins from his L1/MT, where his/her destination is the complete mastery of the L2. On his/her way of reaching the final destination, he/she forms a language that is not either L1 or L2. Rather it is a third language having grammar of its own. The learner, in every step of his/her journey forms this language. Since it is an interim language it is widely referred to as interlanguage (IL). The learner naturally keeps moving along a continuum until the target language (TL/L2) grammar is fully mastered. But not every learner is successful of achieving the targeted competency. It is quite natural that a learner might stop progressing anywhere in the continuum. This state is called fossilization. But a successful learner never fossilizes. He/she keeps progressing towards the target language.


The concept of interlanguage was first proposed by Larry Selinker. Following his path a number of researchers opted to describe the same notion with different labels, such as Approximative System (Nemser), Transitional Competence (Corder), and Idiosyncratic Dialect (Corder). But Selinker’s terminology seems to have attained worldwide acceptance due to its extensive usage. Interlanguage is significant for various reasons. But the prime reason for its popularity is perhaps due to its adoption of mentalist assumptions. It was the theory to incorporate mentalist perspectives in L2 learning theories.

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