Unit 1

Contrastive Analysis




Teaching English to the Indonesian students is not as difficult as most people imagine. There is a strong belief that almost every one can do it. The experience has clearly indicated that the ideas of “Contrastive Analysis” play a very decisive role and contribute very much to the successful of doing this (Koencoro, 2006). Contrastive analysis has been regarded as main pillars in the domain of second or foreign language acquisition especially in Indonesia. Yet, not many English teachers know much about this term and it seems they have found difficulties related to how to conduct a simple contrastive analysis of Indonesian and English language.


A. Contrastive Analysis

Contrastive analysis in general term is an inductive investigative approach based on the distinctive elements in a language (Kardaleska, 2006). In common definition, the term can be defined as the method of analyzing the structure of any two languages with a view to estimate the differential aspects of their system, irrespective or their genetic affinity of level development (Geethakumary, 2006).

Contrastive Analysis of two languages in question: L1 and L2, pointing at the specific features of each language system (in its major areas: phonology, morphology, lexicology, syntax, text analysis) helps in the process of anticipation of possible difficulties with the L2 learners. A part of the difficulties can be attributed to the mother tongue (first language) interference (Kardaleska, 2006).

A systematic comparative study analyzing component wise the differences and similarities among languages was clearly recognized towards the end of 19th century and the beginning of 20th century, especially in Europe. The term “Contrastive linguistics” was suggested by Whorf, for comparative study which is giving emphasis on linguistic differences. Meanwhile contrastive linguistics has been redefined as “a subdiscipline of linguistics concerned with the comparison of two or more languages or subsystems of languages in order to determine both the differences and similarities between them” (Geethakumary, 2006).

The contrastive analysis emphasizes the influence of the mother tongue in learning a second language in phonological, morphological and syntactic levels. Examination of the differences between the first and second languages helps to predict the possible errors that can be made by L2 learners

Contrastive analysis provides an objective and scientific base for second language teaching. While learning a second language, if the mother tongue of the learner and the target language both has significantly similar linguistic features on all the levels of their structures, there will not be much difficulty in learning the new language in a limited time. For knowing the significantly similar structures in both languages the first step to be adopted is that both languages should be analysed independently. After the independent analysis, to sort out the different features of the two languages, comparison of the two languages is necessary. From this analysis it is easy to make out that at different levels of structures of these two languages there are some features quite similar and some quite dissimilar.

According to the popular assumptions of the contrastive analysis, the structural similarities will lead to facilitation and differences will cause interferences in the context of second/foreign language learning situations. This is however only a prediction and a partial understanding of the problems and prospects of a second/foreign language situation. The learner’s problems are not always constrained to the predictions of a contrastive study. Teachers’ competence, motivation and attitude of learners, teaching methods and instructional materials are the other variables that can significantly influence second/foreign language teaching. However, a contrastive grammar is highly useful for a motivated teacher and a learner for a more effective process of teaching and learning.


What is Contrastive Analysis?

CA is a systematic comparison between the target language and the students’ native language to know the similarities and differences between the two.

The similarities are assumed to facilitate the learning of the target language, while the differences are predicted to cause learning problems.


The goals of CA

·        To predict the learning problems

·        To prevent learners from making interlingual errors.

·        To provide bases for choosing and arranging the teaching materials.




Examples of the similarities between English and Indonesian

·        Both English and Indonesian have the sound /b/ in all positions (initial, middle, and final):

-          English:     but       -           about               -           club


-          Indonesian: bisa   -           sebab              -           lembab

·        Both English and Indonesian have the sentence construction : S + V + C/O


-          English:     They play football


-          Indonesian:           Mereka bermain sepak bola


Examples of the differences between English and Indonesian

·        English has sound / θ,ð / as in think and they , but  in Indonesian doesn’t.

·        English has the sound / t∫,ʤ/ in all positions but in Indonesian doesn’t have them in final position:

-          English:     change           -           picture             -           beach


Juice               -           adjust              -           large


-          Indonesian: cerita         -           kacang

Jika                 -           baju

·        English verbs have inflections in the simple present tense, but Indonesian verbs don’t:

-          English:     He plays …,   She plays ….,             It plays …

But                        I play … , They play…, We play …

-          Indonesian:           dia bermain, saya bermain, mereka bermain, kita bermain.






Negative transfer of interference

·        Language learners will tend to transfer the language systems they have acquired in their native language into the systems of the target language they are learning, although the systems are not the same. If it happens, it is called negative transfer or language interference.


-          We play football yesterday.

-          She not a good girl.

Factors of negative transfers

·        Age

-          The younger, the less interfered.

·        Mastery of the target language

-          The better the mastery, the less affected by native language.

·        Level of differences

-          The more the two languages differ, the more the negative transfers.


·        Method of exposure


-          If the target language is exposed in bilingual situation, the tendency of doing negative transfer is bigger.




Thu, 12 Sep 2013 @09:12

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