Does Mother Tongue Interfere in Second Language Learning?

Elif Nur Denizer


Mother tongue largely refers to not only the language one learns from one’s mother but also the speaker’s dominant and home language. It’s also called native language. This study was conducted to find whether mother tongue interferences in second-language learning, and if so; whether it affects the learners’ performance in four language skills, and also in which skill(s) it has the biggest effect. Data collection tool included a questionnaire by which participants were asked to rate the questions and tick-circle or write in the correct blank. The questionnaire was based on both quantitative and qualitative approaches with the help of 4-point Likert-scale questions and one open-ended question at the last part. The participants of the study were 20 volunteer students (15 females and 5 males) in Uludag University on whom the questionnaire was randomly applied.  They ranged in age from 18 to 40 and the mean age was 23. Their mother tongue was Turkish, and they knew English as a foreign language. The questionnaire shows that mother tongue interferes with second language learning in some way. In English language, the most challenging part was Grammar, while the most difficult and influenced skills was Speaking. In addition, participants had difficulty with speaking without any preparation. When it comes to having difficulty, participants had difficulty with determiners, English tenses and articles. The results indicated the interference of mother tongue in almost all aspects.

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