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English Language Teaching

June, 2008

Implication of IL Fossilization in Second Language Acquisition
Xueping Wei Graduate School of Foreign Language, Beijing Language and Culture University 10#215, 15 Xueyuan Road, Beijing 100083, China Email: Xueping.wei@gmail.com Abstract Since the phenomenon of fossilization in intelanguage is proposed by Selinker in 1972, it has drawn much attention and commonly acknowledged at home and abroad. This paper introduces the definition, classification, presentation, and causal factors of fossilization in an attempt to help Chinese students better understand the phenomenon and avoid its influence by the proposal of some suggestions. Keywords: Fossilization, Interlanguage (IL), Target Language (TL), Second Language Acquisition (SLA) 1. Notion of Fossilization Selinker first put forwarded the notion of fossilization in the paper Interlanuage in 1972. He noted that 95% of L2 learners failed to reach the same level of L1 competence from his observation. This kind of phenomenon is defined by Selinder (1972) as fossilization. Fossilization, a mechanism…underlies surface linguistic material which speakers will tend to keep in their IL productive performance, no matter what the age of the learner or the amount of instruction he receives in the TL. Selinker and Lamendella (1978) redefined fossilization as a permanent cessation of IL learning before the learner has attained TL norms at all levels of linguistic structure and in all discourse domains in spite of the learner’s positive ability, opportunity, and motivation to learn and acculturate into target society. The notion of fossilization has been interpreted differently by different scholars since it was proposed. For instance, there are terms like backsliding, stabilized errors, learning plateau, typical error, persistent non-target-like performance, de-acceleration of the learning process, ingrained errors, systematic use of erroneous forms, cessation of learning, structural...


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