Fossilization - SS not using what they already know

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Fossilization - SS not using what they already know

Unread postby Avocado » 12 Jun 2010, 14:40

I'm running into a recurring problem. Some of my students who have no issues using target language when it's the obvious focus of the day, or when they see it on a test, consistently fail to use it when it comes up in conversation. It's not a problem of knowledge, but more of awareness.

For example, students know the past tense; I mean, really know it, and have known it since grade school (I'm referring to adults in this post). But when you greet them with, "How was your weekend?" the answer is, "I go..I see.."

Is this fossilization, or does it have some other name? Anyone else encountered this and have any suggestions for dealing with it?
Last edited by systematic on 14 Jun 2010, 04:19, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Impr title for quicker reference
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Re: Fossilization

Unread postby systematic » 14 Jun 2010, 04:18

I can't really think of an official term for the syndrome. It has several sources however. Sloppy teaching from their own non English native teachers while in primary school or early secondary, is one reason. More often perhaps, as in the example of Thai L1 speakers is the absence, or near absence of tenses in their own grammar (coupled with the first reason). It's also of course a clear sign that they are not yet thinking in L2 - a major breakthrough in language acquisition. Also aggravated in countries, again citing Thailand as an example, in which teacher-centred methodology is still widely practiced. Rote systems neither expect nor encourage the students to think much at all about what they are learning.
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Re: Fossilization - SS not using what they already know

Unread postby Avocado » 14 Jun 2010, 14:53

After doing some research on the term, I realize that this is exactly what is referred to as fossilization. And it seems that some students, even after up to 10 years of corrective teaching, never overcome it. The moral? Try to see this sort of thing early on and head it off while you can; and if you get students who are already fossilized, devote most of your effort to improving things other than spoken accuracy, since that is pointless in these cases.
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Re: Fossilization - SS not using what they already know

Unread postby Lucy » 14 Jun 2010, 21:07

Hi Avocado,

You might want to take a look at this question I answered about fossilised errors:

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=187&p=353&hilit=fossilised#p353

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