Thursday, March 29, 2007

a late news flash on Fossilization...'Stabilization'

I have to agree with Brown (2007, p.261) that 'Fossilization' is a normal natural stage, and should not be viewed as a terminal illness. He suggests another term of 'stabilization', which is a much more positive term, as it allows room for balance and adjustment.
I believe, that L2 learners enter and exit many different kinds of situations throughout their interlanguage phase, and each new situation makes it possible for the learner to re-adjust. Of course the learner can choose not to change, or feel they can't change, but I essentially believe that it is possible. So the term I will glom onto is 'stabilization'. Steven Mondy

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Learning from others...

One of my classmates said: "This eloquent man, has learnt to speak Thai from the innapropriate gender and class for the world he circulates in and is quite aware that he speaks like a bar- girl.The Thais being terribly polite excuse him and even think it is quite cute/funny and because of the warmth he gets he has never learned to correct his speech, or seen the need to, his fossilization is actually now a part of his character and if he came out with polite Thai he may find people didn't find him as funny or cute."

The same can be said for all those learning Osaka-ben in Japan. Or a husband (in Jpn) learning his wife's language patterns, and then using them in another social setting, only to find out that he is speaking in a female tone. A foreigner speaking in Osaka-ben will almost always get laughs, which encourage more use of Osaka-ben. And Japanese would be too polite to say to anyone, that your speech sounds 'girlish'.

Even knowing the problem, it is quite difficult to change. Once you have developed a feeling for something, un-learning becomes difficult, if not impossible in some cases. There really has to be some extremely persuasive external motivating forces to make someone even contemplate change. Steven Mondy

Thursday, March 22, 2007

...when you are isolated from a community...

My mum has lived in Australia for just under 60 years (left Malta when she was 14) and she speaks the Maltese of when she was in Malta. She has always spoken to all her brothers in Maltese in Australia, and until recently has had no real contact with the country she was born in. So when she now watches the Maltese news on SBS, she scratches her head wondering what some of the words mean... I guess it is evidence for how language evolves... and when you are isolated from the community, you go on speaking in the same way, while the community that you came from starts changing the way it uses language. Is this a behaviorist-type observation?????

Moving off on a tangent, however, the most amazing thing with her English is that she speaks with native-like fluency (little if no accent), and it's difficult to distinguish the mistakes she makes, from those expected of native-E speaker mistakes. Yet, when she has to write something, that's when you can see all the non-native errors. I quite enjoy seeing my mother's letters (though quite rare, as she readily avoids writing). They remind me of her cultural background. Steven Mondy (By the way, my mothers maiden name - "Muscat", a very Maltese name)

Thursday, March 15, 2007


Accent is something that seems to worry many of our Japanese students, and frankly I have to ask why? Accents are beautiful, and reflective of deep cultural roots. Why on earth would you want everyone in the world speaking with the same accent? Where's the diversity, and the creativity that comes with that amount of variety in the world. Accents are beautiful, and it's a shame when they are lost...
Actually, does anyone know where I left mine?
Having been in Japan for a fairly long time, I have unwittingly adopted some strange kind of accent... I want my Australian accent back! Does anyone know where I left my accent?Steven Mondy
(sorry for the tongue in cheek tone...)

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

fossilization 1

I always felt that fossilization was only a literacy thing, however, as a long term resident in a foreign country I can see it in my own second language performance in speaking (and even listening, if that’s at all possible?!). I tend to rely a lot on standard set phrases or words that can be used in a multitude of situations. The more I rely on them, the harder it is to be creative in my language use.
We have a student here at the college whose fossilization is so strong, that he has begun making excuses for his inability. “English is so difficult.” “I didn’t learn it when I was young.” “I’m too old, too busy” etc… I guess that denial is part of what ingrains particular routines.
A person may even be totally aware that they are making the mistakes, but when it comes down to the crunch, they make the mistakes anyway, ‘cause it feels more comfortable…or they make the mistake and regret it afterwards, but when the time comes to use that language again, will make the same mistake over and over. I see myself doing this…
Yes, it is useful, to have set phrases to take out when the situation arises. That’s what a lot of audio lingual approaches focus upon. However, we do become over-reliant on these phrases, almost to the point where we ignore the situational context. Or we expect others to interpret or make sense of our babble, which often happens in a sympathetic environment, such as a SL situation. However, how many of you long term residents of a foreign country have discovered that the sympathy turns to impatience, when you continue to rely on the set number of formulaic expressions. And when the personal realization takes place, it becomes difficult to change, ‘cause the expressions have become fossilized.
Steven Mondy