Cross-linguistic Similarity in Foreign Language Learning by Hakan Ringbom

By Hakan Ringbom

This e-book explores the significance of cross-linguistic similarity in international language studying. Similarities could be perceived within the kind of simplified one-to-one relationships or in basic terms assumed. The publication outlines different roles of L1 move on comprehension and on creation, and on shut and far away objective languages.

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In general, L1-research has been conducted along three different lines: language comprehension, language production and language development. Of these, language production has been the most extensively studied area in SLA research, so much so that learning for production, especially learning grammar, has often at least implicitly been identified with SLA generally. The implications of the work up to the late 1980s, even that of a key figure such as Corder, whose contributions to SLA theory have been of major importance, are that language comprehension and vocabulary studies are, as it were, stepchildren not worthy of treatment at the same level as the study of grammar acquisition for productive use.

In 1987 I made a rough estimate that at least 75% of Swedish-speaking Finns were able to conduct a conversation in Finnish. If we exclude the Åland Islands, with their internationally-granted special, monolingually-Swedish language status, the percentage of bilinguals in Finland today would probably be around 90%. Depending on the definition, the equivalent figure for bilingualism in Finns today might be, say, 15–20%. The small figure might seem surprising, since practically all educated Finnish speakers have passed the Matriculation Exam in Swedish, which was compulsory up to 2005 and comprises the same types of test as the exam in English.

The balancing factor of a few Swedish-based bilingual education programmes has so far affected only a small minority of Finnish schools. Mergers of companies and extensive Finnish–Swedish cooperation in business and industry have, however, caused many adult Finns at top and middle levels of business administration to improve their mediocre school Swedish in order to communicate with partners and customers in Sweden. Though inter-Nordic business is often conducted in English rather than Swedish, Swedish is a more natural language for informal contacts.

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