3 EFL Terms You Should Know: Interlanguage, Interference, and Fossilisation
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If you’re not a TEFL teacher, you probably don’t know what cognates, collocations, or clozes are, or inflection, inversion or IELTS, or minimal pairs, morphemes, or modal verbs – and that’s okay. As with any career, there is a fair amount of jargon related to teaching English as a Foreign Language. If you are a TEFL teacher, in order for you to be on top of your game, it’s necessary for you to be aware of this jargon and to have a solid understanding of the related key concepts of TEFL. But don’t be overwhelmed, we’re here to help!
While it would be total overload to try to tackle all this language in one post, we are going to make a start right here, right now. So here we are going to explore 3 EFL terms you should know: Interlanguage, Interference, and Fossilisation
Interlanguage is the linguistic system that underlies the language our learners produce.
In other words, your learners have their first language, and English is the target language, and the English they are capable of producing is their interlanguage.
Understanding interlanguage can be useful in many ways. Studying a student’s interlanguage will emphasise what a learner is producing rather than concentrating on error analysis, which is often what we do.
The interesting thing about interlanguage is that it is remarkably similar for learners regardless of their mother tongues. In other words, a Spanish-speaker and a Turkish-speaker may produce very similar language if they have similar levels of English. For example, they may follow the same developmental patterns when learning specific language structures.
At the same time, when it comes to error analysis, we see that learners who have the same or similar first languages are likely to produce the same errors. This is helpful when it comes to planning our lessons, as we are able to anticipate errors and plan appropriate lesson activities to counter those errors.
Read more: Encouraging Mistakes in the TEFL Classroom
Interference relates to problems that affect the learning of a new language, specifically caused by the learner’s first language.
It comes about as a result of the learner transferring aspects of their first language onto the second language. Even though this mostly happens when the learner is at a low level of the second language, it can actually happen at any stage in learning, when the learner makes assumptions about the language they do not know.
This makes sense when the first language and the second language are very different, but it is also a problem when the two languages are very similar, as learners may assume that words that look or sound similar have the same meaning or can be used in the same way when in fact they can’t.
False friends are such an example.
False friends are words that look and sound similar in two languages but have a completely different meaning. This is in contrast to cognates, which are words in different languages that come from the same family and so are related.
If you consider milk (English) and melk (Dutch) you can understand that they are cognates because they look and sound the same and they have the same meaning. However, embarrassed (English) and embarasado (Spanish) are false friends. Even though they look and sound similar, embarasado actually means pregnant!
Read more: An A-Z of the English Language
Fossilisation is when a language error becomes a habit in the second language.
Making mistakes in a foreign language is a natural part of the learning process and is to be expected and even encouraged. Language learners make mistakes all the time, but sometimes they will be corrected and other times they won’t. If the mistakes they are making do not impede communication in any way there is a chance they will go unnoticed, especially if these productions are not taking place in the EFL classroom. If this happens again and again, over time the learner will adopt this error into their language production without realising it is a mistake.
Fossilised errors can be extremely difficult to correct because they have been incorporated into a learner’s interlanguage. However, bringing a learner’s attention to the error and their production can help, as can doing activities focussed on that particular error.
Read more: Effective Error Correction
Don’t worry if this is all news to you, every day is an opportunity for learning! Now that you have a good grasp of the terms interlanguage, interference, and fossilization, you can move on to other terms you should know. When you have some free time, instead of automatically switching on Netflix, rather pick up a TEFL book or read a TEFL blog to keep you informed and educated on all things TEFL.
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LAST UPDATED: 27th August 2021
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Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that Everything TEFL Ltd securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to Everything TEFL Ltd collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think Everything TEFL Ltd has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the Everything TEFL Ltd processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the Everything TEFL Ltd has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, Everything TEFL Ltd is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the Everything TEFL Ltd.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to Everything TEFL Ltd, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
Everything TEFL Ltd
28 – 32 Pembroke Street,
Republic of Ireland
Telephone: +353 (1) 554 6227
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.