Why Fossilization In TEFL Occurs?

31st October 2022

Unfortunately, a lot of professionals compare fossilization errors to cancer. Just like cancer, fossilization errors also cause several characteristics of a learner's "interlanguage" to agonize. This eventually affects the learner's English language learning journey across precision. As a language teacher, you must be thinking about why such mistakes are still happening and what can be done about it.

Please note, we are not talking about errors that rise at very early stages of language learning. Fossilization errors usually occur at different levels like pre-intermediate, intermediate, upper-intermediate, etc.

Understanding The Fossilized Errors

In simple words, fossilization errors mean a student makes again and again and not being able to correct the errors no matter how you try to aid them. In some cases, it has been seen that the student already knows he/she is making an error, however, despite his/her finest efforts, can’t help himself/herself and continues to make the mistake.

Fossilization is an error which is so intensely deep-seated in the student. The student already knows that these are errors but the errors are so deeply ingrained that they come out irrespective. The irony is you will often see that beginners generally don’t make fossilized errors. Sometimes, these mistakes occur due to mother tongue influence as well. On the other hand, sometimes the teacher may not catch the error.

Fossilization in interlanguage is proposed by Selinker in 1972. Selinker first put forward the idea of fossilization in the paper Interlanguage in 1972. The concept of fossilization has been understood contrarily by different scholars since it was projected. Generally, fossilization consists of two types:

  • Error reappearance
  • Language competence fossilization

Error Reappearance

Basically, it refers to the inapt interlanguage constructions that are supposed to have been corrected but it stays to appear frequently. It can be found in IL of novices or learners with low aptitude.

Language Competence Fossilization

Language competence fossilization generally refers to the plateau in the progress of L2 learners’ phonological, grammatical, lexical and pragmatic capability. It is mostly found in L2 students who have been learning TL for a long period of time.

Categories of Fossilization include –

  • Phonological
  • Morphological
  • Semantic
  • Syntactic
  • Pragmatic

How To Manage Fossilized Errors?

Correcting the fossilization is not an easy task. It takes time and patience, consider the following ideas ---

As a teacher, definitely you can take essential steps to support learners recognize the error type they are making. Next, you can help them to analyse the root of the error. Also, your students may get help from more in-depth training on how the correct pattern works in English. Along with this, intervention methods and intensive practice activities also help a lot.

It is important for your students to get a 100% understanding here of what they doing wrong. Try to manage one error at a time, avoid overburdening the students. Ask your students to record themselves speaking and then have them check. Sometimes, they also spot their own errors. Similarly, teachers also must consider carefully how much time and effort can be chosen to try to break fossilized habits. Try to encourage students to peer edit. Put students into pairs. Write a few correct and a few incorrect sentences in random order on the board. Have learners divide the sentences into two groups and ask them to correct and incorrect.

The Bottom Line

Fossilized Errors have a significant influence on second language acquisition. 220 hours International TEFL course will help you to teach English as a foreign language in a better way by helping the global ESL/EFL students all across the world. More research is needed to solve fossilization problems in all aspects of language learning.

Looking for earning an international TEFL certification? If yes then call us at 1800 212 6400 or +916292137532. Chat with our TEFL expert if you have any questions, send us an email to find out more.


Written By : Bindita Sinha    Share

Leave a Reply