Maryna (M P) Roodt

Mrs., English lecturer, Department of Languages and Social Sciences, Central University of Technology, Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa, Email address:




Selinker (1972) introduced the term interlanguage (IL) to describe the language system of a learner of a target language (TL) which in this case would be English. He regarded the language of such a learner as a separate linguistic system, namely an Interlanguage. Three aspects characterize this Interlanguage system: permeability, systematicity and fossilization. This system would have distinct features of both the TL and the learner’s first language. Most researchers agree that this system is a systematic and permeable system, but there is no agreement among language researchers and teachers whether fossilization exists.

According to Selinker, however, Second Language (SL) learners fail to attain full Second Language competence. Those learners will have different internalised ‘rules’ than which exist in both the Target language (TL) and their mother tongue. These deviant structures would then be ‘fossilized’. These fossilized structures may be on the level of pronunciation, vocabulary, syntax, etc. Many factors may lead to fossilization, like transfer of training (wrong teaching) and the influence of the mother tongue (language transfer).

The majority of students who enrol at the Central University of Technology to do a B.Ed with English as a major are not mother tongue speakers of English. This implies that their English is not up to the required level to teach English at school. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the majority of these students were taught by teachers who are not mother tongue speakers of English and whose English is most probably characterized by various fossilized structures. This paper focuses on a study undertaken among 120 third year B.Ed English major students to determine the extent of fossilization and to identify aspects of the IL which has become so fossilized that they are regarded as features of Black South African English (BSAE). The study is a quantitative study and the data were collected by means of a grammaticality judgment test. In this type of test grammatically correct and incorrect sentences are jumbled and the students then have to identify which sentences are incorrect and correct them. The test consisted of 30 sentences (items). These sentences (both correct and incorrect) were taken from the written work of students. The study just focused on 8 aspects of the deviant structures often found in the written work of students. The results suggest that there are many structures which seem to be firmly embedded in the English of the students. The results of this study raise the question whether we are faced with the emergence of a distinct dialect, Black South African English.

Keywords: Interlanguage, Fossilization, Second Language Acquisition, Teacher Education


CITATION: Abstracts & Proceedings of ADVED 2017 - 3rd International Conference on Advances in Education and Social Sciences, 9-11 October 2017- Istanbul, Turkey

ISBN: 978-605-82433-0-9