Negative transfer of Slovak language as a mother tongue in EFL compositions

Ema Fričeková, University of Presov, Slovakia;      Abstract: The issue of language transfer has been extensively studied amongst FL researchers in last decades from various perspectives. The present paper focuses on the aspect of negative transfer that derives from mother tongue influence and has subsequently a negative impact on Slovak EFL students writing performance. The first part is devoted to the theoretical background, which guides the reader through a brief linguistic typology of Slovak and English language from the morphological, syntactic and lexical point of view and the possible effects of these characteristics on the learner. The last area of this part deals with the factors influencing the occurrence of this transfer. The research part examines the written compositions of seventh- and eighth-grade elementary school students (n=44) in terms of interlingual negative transfer in four selected categories (morphology, orthography, syntax and lexicology). The results of the research show that the phenomenon of negative language transfer from Slovak to English exists and that students often opt for their mother tongue as a resource when using English as a foreign language. This fact influences the accuracy of their EFL compositions indicating these two conclusions. First, it requires further research which would shed light into the frequency of such errors and state the most susceptible areas that require special attention. Second, consequently, it indicates a need for intervention from the teachers who should systematically point out to these areas within EFL classrooms.

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