Thursday, April 1, 2010

Teachers on fossilization

I have been looking for any PRACTICAL methods for dealing with 'fossilization.' I am already aware of most of the theory behind it, but I have not come across any activities that try to deal with it. It seems like most linguists seem to think adults with fossilization problems can't be helped. Any suggestions?




"I have never read any literature about 'fossilisation', but I do encounter this phenomenon daily in my job."

(Comment: Good for you, Roger)

What's to do?

(Uh, shouldn't you sort of stop right now? But hey, I've never read anything about the common cold and yet I know how to blow my nose. Let it rip, Roger!)

It is a phenomenon of the learner not being aware of how different their English (or any SL) is.

(No it's not that easy, Roger. Yes, sometimes they are not aware of particular issues. They are however often aware, or were aware but can't help it.)

In my view, they must first of all learn to identify their own fossilised pronunciation and what distinguishes it from standard English.

(German class: eek eek eek! Identified. He knows. He's still doing it. And what if the student can't hear the more subtle differences?)

My advice to Chinese speakers of English is to read aloud a well-rehearsed text and to tape-record it and to listen to it later.

(Now, sure, why not? Just don't repeat it too often.)

I also they need to speak the language with each other, in order to become aware of how CHinese mispronounce English, so as to be able to appreciate a native English speaker's English.

("Appreciate?" You snooty bastard. Yeah, nonnatives speaking to nonnatives in a foreign language. It's been done and they're doing it daily all over the globe. It does NOT work. It can only reinforce the phenomenon.)

Of course, ideally some changes to how English is being taught in China would take care of many problems we encounter here.

(What about Korea? And JARmany?)

For instance chorussing seems to be a major contributing factor to fossilisation!

(It contributes to the uniformity of Chinese English. In a way it's helpful, lol.).

Also the habit of Chinese to read aloud for mere oral practice seems to be rather counterproductive - students often don't know how to pronounce in the first place.

(So how would their talking to each other or listening to their own recording help?)

They don't learn to seek phonetic information from dictionaries either - they simply ask a teacher to say things aloud.

(That's actually a very good idea. Teacher quality is not their fault.)


Hello Maurice:

I agree with Roger that it is important to help students become aware of their mistakes and the places where their language may have fossilzed. They will never be able to change set learned patterns until they know what it is that they must change.


Keen observations, moonlight!

(It's noonlite, Roger)

I can only say what I have observed in Chinese classrooms, and here, unfortunately, neither Chinese teachers nor their students ever learn to become aware of faulty speech patterns! The prime reason is that the "communitarian" approach to teaching instills in the individual learner no such concept as awareness or responsibility for one's own progress.

(now that's a stinker!)

Read the rest at

No comments: