In the thesis the problem of language interference is investigated. More specifically, the thesis observes how the mother tongue (Dhivehi) affects students’ English pronunciation, expression and understanding. A learner’s English becomes foreign not because of all the mistakes made by the learner, but because of those particular ones, which are made under the influence of the learner’s mother tongue. Even in the case when a learner breaks the rules and does not follow all the models prescribed by the Standard English dictionaries, the English language produced will not be considered foreign.
But the thing, which makes one’s English obviously French or Maldivian English, is the pronunciation, or the way one expresses his/her thoughts and ideas, or the understanding affected by his/her mother tongue, or the mistakes made on the basis of untrue similarities with the mother tongue of the person. A number of particular mistakes of Maldivian English have been found out and recommendations are given how to prevent them in pronunciation, expression and understanding. The study uses test and observation to elicit the data and the comparison of two phonologic systems is used in data interpretation.
The results show that Maldivian students experience the following difficulties caused by the influence of their mother tongue: phonetic errors (43,6%) in pronunciation, understanding of English idioms (49,6%), wrong positioning of adverbs and particles (54%) in expression. Mother tongue plays an important role in foreign language teaching. The mother tongue has to be used in all the aspects of foreign language acquisition, more or less in every stage of language learning, and in all the spheres: writing, reading, speaking and listening.
For example, mother tongue is most frequently present in the teacher’s explanations and in the new material presentation, also students have to understand the meaning and so the bilingual dictionary is consulted. Even if a teacher uses the most direct language-teaching method (it is when language taught through speaking and listening without translation into students’ mother tongue), the learner will conduct a rationalization or internal dialogue in native language.
Moreover, many educators agree on the point that learning a foreign language without relying on a learner’s native language is not possible, “and the impulse to look for similarities and to draw conclusions based on them is as strong here as in any other learning context. ” (Nicholls 2002). Consequently, among many other influences the influence produced by a mother tongue on the process of foreign language learning is a very strong one and thus it constitutes an important area of study for educators all over the world.
The problem of language interference or the influence of mother tongue on foreign language learning is focused on by the thesis. The research comprises the spheres of linguistics, socio-linguistics and education. 1. 2 Thesis Overview First, the paper investigates socio-cultural and linguistic features of English and Dhivehi and compare then in order to explain the difficulties a learner of English has to face. Then, using the researches of world-known linguists and educators, the paper concentrates on each of the aspects, like pronunciation, expression and understanding and discusses mother tongue influence on them.
Additionally, all the linguistic and pedagogic terms and notions applied in the research are defined and properly explained, using referencing and citation of prominent scientists. The practical part of the research consists of methodology, data analysis, data interpretation and recommendations. Conclusion of the thesis provides with the analysis of the main findings of the research conducted. At the end of the thesis the main problems are summarized and the general suggestions on how to improve the English Language Teaching (ELT) in Maldives are given.