Interpreting the Learning-Mismatch between L1 (Bangla) in Learning L2 (English): An I.R.T. Approach

Interpreting the Learning-Mismatch between L1 (Bangla) in Learning L2 (English): An I.R.T. Approach

Subir Mitra 

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay 

Indian Statistical Institute

Surja Shankar Ray 

Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata

March 7, 1997

Since the geniuses of the two languages, viz. Bangla, i.e., L1 and English, L2 are in many ways different externally and because English is important in the Indian context –mainly as a language for national discourse, higher studies, business, administration – the present study was considered worthwhile as it aims to gauge the extent to which L1, i.e. mother-tongue or Bangla interferes with the learning of English in the context of West Bengal (India). When English is taught in West Bengal’s Bangla medium schools as L2, the students confront some major problems and this hinders their learning of L2. Therefore, it is necessary to identify the linguistic zones where the interferences occur and also determine the extent of encroachment/cohabitation of these two languages. It is assumed that questions or items loaded with selected components (a mismatch between L1 and L2) are expected to be relatively difficult for a learner. In the present study, questions with differential loadings or mismatch have been identified and nature of the difficulties of the items faced by students have been proved. The aim while constructing the questionnaire was to locate the areas of supposed mismatch between the epiphenomenal parameters of LI and L2 and to find out the nature of actual classroom interaction: The following suppositions were made:Agreement, Word order, Passivization, Tense, Tautology, Selectional Restrictions, Suppletion or internal change, Yes-No Questions and WH-Questions. Keeping in mind areas of mismatch or difficulty and components stated before, a suitable psychometric model (Item Response Theory) was adopted to measure the learning achievement and component effect. For the purpose of our study the Rasch model was adopted. Items were dichotomously scored; 1 for correct response and 0 for wrong response or no response. To put it mathematically, response to an item i by an examinee j is denoted as uij. Learning achievement is considered as a continuous variable θ. According to IRT, the probability of giving a correct response to i by an examinee with ability θj is defined as Item Characteristic Function (ICF). The following inferences can be drawn from the results mentioned above: 1.From the results obtained, it is certain that where the idiomatic use of English is demanded, the difficulty level is the highest. This only confirms the fact that Idiomatic usages are culture-specific(context-sensitive) and greater attention should be paid to them when pursuing the syllabus. 2. Question structures, passsivizations, word-order, tense and selectional restrictions: these components have presented moderate difficulty. One reason could be the mismatch between L1 and L2. Here the interference of L1 is obvious and hardly needs explanation. 3.Simple tenses and suppletion, internal changes have proved easy Items for examinees. The possible reasons are (a) these tenses are without any riders attached. In other words they are not determined by auxiliary markers. But, in cases where such markers are demanded, the problem of tense has proved difficult. (b) in the case of affixations, the uniqueness of words must have determined correct responses This is obviously because of the lack of familiarity with the word and because of distracters. 4. It may further be noted that the multiplicity of components in an item is not the determining factor for a correct response. This is perhaps because of our gestalt way of learning a language. A learner perceives language as a whole and not as something fragmented as made out by grammarians. 5.Moreover, it is observable that items on affixations have proved easy. This Is perhaps because greater emphasis is put on learning words rather than on learning sentence structures. In conclusion it should be noted that the performance of English of the Bangla Medium school on the whole is poor, 22.37 being the average score.


Number of Pages in PDF File: 8

Keywords: Item Response Theory, Language Learning


About Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay

Debaprasad Bandyopdhyay (b. 1965), through his 25 years journey in the realm of institutionalized academics did 27 different types of works, which are someway different from the earlier paradigms or, one might say that those works are not only mere reproductions of his inherited institutionalized cultural capital or a mimicry of a colonially imposed model that leads to intellectual anorexia or rather a type falsification of earlier paradigms. However, that might be not only a lofty claim but it also hid the fact that all our information and knowledge are socially accumulated knowledge that was, it is matter of regret, posed as private property through the sign © and the wisdom is rarely available. Bandyopadhyay’s works and projects are the products of his social milieu. Bandyopadhyay is a local sub-altern public sphere academician, who avoids the technical intelligentsia (followers of Sahib’s models and they are not committed to the persons who are accommodating surplus work-time to them by performing surplus labour) or inorganic intellectuals and thus fails to be a part of academic tribe and its subsequent socialization process. Of course, that socialization process does not lead to legendary Socratic dialogue. He is also a political activist though he has not affiliated to any political parties as he was always talking about the corporatization of political parties within the money-sign-based democratic system. He is a regular participant in TV and radio talk-shows and documentary films, street-corners’ talks and International seminars on socio-political, psychological, linguistic, environmental and economic issues. He also writes editorial columns in newspapers. He is also a part of parallel academics as it is found in West Bengal’s Little Magazine Movement, though that was not counted as the part his academic pursuit by his parent institute. His parent institute justifiably does not believe in the domain of parallel academics as this unorganized sector does not directly contribute in the transactions of formal/organized print capitalist eco-enemy paper-publication. Though the dissemination of knowledge is also observed in this space of these parallel academics as all these writings in public sphere simultaneously influence the classroom-discourse and some of them are translated into English, French and Italian. Not only that, Bandyopadhyay also sought engagement with the people, who, by supplying their surplus labour, are sustaining his livelihood. Bandyopadhyay, a linguist by training and a Ph.D.-holder (1996), a junior lecturer (1999-2011) in an autonomous central government institute in India, tries his best for those from he has received and is receiving the manifestation of surplus labour by executing some self-funded projects on economic issues in West Bengal, India. Recently he has got a consolation promotion to the post of Assistant Professor. He has done following 27 research works: 1. Crippled Creativity: An inquiry into language, psyche, society: 2. VALENCY OF BANGLA VERB AND PROBLEM OF COMPOUND VERBS: 3. Archaeology of Bangla Grammar : 4. CAN COMPUTER SPEAK? 5. FUZZY LOGICAL EXPRESSION IN BANGLA : 6. FOLKLORE AND FOLK-LANGUAGE: MYTH OR REALITY? 7. HISTORICISM IN THE DISCOURSE OF BANGLA LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE 8. ABHABA, ECP, DELETION AND TRACE 9. SVATVA OR MY-NESS AND ECONOMIC ENTITLEMEMT 10. TRANSLATION STUDIES 11. MASCULINITY STUDIES 12. YAYATI & BABAR COMPLEX 13. SOCIO-ECONOMIC SURVEYS IN AGRICULTURE AND INDUSTRY IN WEST BENGAL 14. CONCEPT OF BODY IN INDIAN PHILOSOPHY AND ARCHITECTURE 15. THE CONCEPT OF ERROR (KHYATI) IN MAD-(WO)MEN’S LANGUAGE 16. THE CONCEPT OF PERCEPTUAL TIME AND GRAMMATICAL TIME IN BANGLA 17. BANGLA CALLIGRAPHY, LANGUAGE ART AND LINGUISTIC PEDAGOGY 18. WO(L)D SPACES: NON-EXISTENCE OF WORDS 19. ANEKANTA METHODS 20. SILENCEME: SILENT OTHER IN LINGUISTICS 21. IMAGINED BOUDARIES AND PRE-COLONIAL INDIAN IMAGI-NATION 22. MAKING OF THE INDIAN PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE 23. SEGMENTING THE SUPRASEGMENTALS : MUSICKING IN SPEAKING 24. INTERPRETING GENETIC STRUCTURE BY DEPLOYING LINGUISTIC STRUCTURE 25. GLOTTOPOLITICS OF LINGUISTIC SUBALTERNITY OR AN AGENDA FOR PLANNING FROM BELOW 26. SEMIOTICS OF PHOTOGRAPHY 27. SOCIOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY ACADEMICS
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