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Alumno: Ortega Daz Eduardo

Lingstica Aplicada y Anlisis de Errores

Profesor: Octavio Villareal Rivera

Why is it important contrastive analysis?


The study of a pair of languages was a major breakthrough in the 1960. Researchers in
second language acquisition used contrastive analysis with the intent of understanding why
some issues of one language were more difficult than others for a learner of certain
language. Contrastive analysis (CA) is based on the hypotheses of differences and
similarities which says that: With greater differences between two languages learners are
going to have more problems to acquire the second language (L2), but if some
characteristics of the native language (L1) are similar to the learners (L2) he is going to
learn the (L2) with more easiness due to the positive transferences students could make.
Contrastive Analysis contributions to second language acquisition are important for five
reasons:
Firstly, CA has allowed teachers of (L2) to focus on the differences of the (L1) and (L2)
and this has enabled them to help their students to cope with this differences better. If the
students were walking unwarily on the paths of a second language acquisition then their
learning could be at risk of falling with the many differences that a (L2) can have in
comparison with his (L1). For example for Spanish speakers is so difficult to understand
why the possessive pronoun su splits in English to his/her and such leaves them baffled
and with many difficulties. So if the professor takes advantage of CA he will be able to
guide them through the process.
Secondly, CAs influence in learners and teachers of a second language is notorious and this
due to what? There is an important phenomenon in research that when somebody is eager
to know more about any subject he will make important discoveries even if the object of
study does not happen near him. We can see that for Spanish speakers many of their
grammar rules make perfect sense for them (not all of course), but in general they do not
have many questions for their own grammar, so grammar books of Spanish do not give
elaborated explanations of the aspects of Spanish grammar. However American students of
Spanish do have plenty of questions for a language that is not theirs, what is more only
teachers or experimented students can fully answer these questions because they have the
knowledge that sometimes is not even in the books of Spanish speakers. The point is that

Alumno: Ortega Daz Eduardo


Lingstica Aplicada y Anlisis de Errores

Profesor: Octavio Villareal Rivera

CA has been of great help for teachers of a second language for they are able to see the
differences of two languages and registered them into books.
Thirdly, even if CA analysis purpose is to show the similarities of two languages, it has
shown itself productive given be the case that it manages to find one similarity, it does not
relate the similarities of the two languages, but once seen the similarity it presents it within
the context of the second language, which in the end is a way of letting know the students
that every language has its own nature regardless of the similarity.
Fourthly, CA research has shown that however the resemblance of two elements of the (L1)
and (L2) the functional loads that the (L2) gives to the same element of the (L1) can vary
which is telling us that the likeness in the two elements though lexical can have a very
functional distinction. Here CA demonstrates that not everything is what it seems.
Fifthly, CA makes a double job the first one is to make sure that the students of (L2) are not
transferring his (L1), which would no help the student to really make an approach to the
(L2), and the second one is that CA compares the production of L2 with the standard of the
same language to see if there can be some flexibility in the grammar of the (L2).
As a conclusion CA took the leading role in second language acquisition for a long time
because its aim was to predict the problems that students of an (L2) were going to have, and
as a matter of fact it was of great help until the very moment that the criticism made them
see that no all difficulties can be foretold and not all the problems come from the
comparison of languages, but from many other factors.