An Analysis of Native Language Transfer in English Writing for Non-English Major Students

Cailing QIN


Writing is considered to be an effective way to convey thoughts and feelings by written languages, which play a vital role in measuring learners’ comprehensive competence. As well, English writing is regarded as an indispensable item in English examinations, but actually college students’ writing performance is far from satisfaction. And it is suggested that native language transfer is one of the principal factors leading to the undesirable result.
This assay adopts transfer theory, contrastive analysis and error analysis theory to serve the research. The purpose of the research is to explore the influence of native language transfer in English writing for non-English major students. It employed both qualitative and quantitative research including writing test, questionnaire and interview. The subjects in this research are 120 sophomores in Henan Polytechnic University majoring in Computer Science & Technology and Civil Engineering. The research is conducted from three aspects—lexis, syntax and discourse and there are great findings: compared with male students, female students depend less on native language in the writing process; due to native language transfer the number of errors students make in lexis ranks the first followed by errors in syntax and the then the errors at discourse level; the involvement of native language transfer varies with different stages of writing.



Native language transfer; College English writing; Non-English major students

Full Text:



Connor, U. (1996). Contrastive rhetoric: Cross-cultural aspects of second-language writing. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Cook, V. J. (1985). Universal grammar and second language learning. Journal of Applied Linguistics, (6), 2-18.

Corder, S. P. (1981). Error analysis and interlanguage. Oxford: Oxford Up.

Cumming, A. (1989). Writing expertise and second-language proficiency. Language Learning, (42), 157-182.

Dai, W. D., & Wang, D. (2002). Issues and exploration. Foreign Languages, (6).

Dulay, H., & Burt, M. (1994). Natural sequences in child second language acquisition. Language Learning, (24), 37-53.

Ellis, R. (1999). The study of second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ellis, R. (2009). Understanding second language acquisition. Shanghai: Shanghai Foreign Language Educational Press.

Gass, S., & Selinker. (1983). Language transfer in language learning. Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House.

Guo, C. J., & Liu, F. A. (1997). Dynamic research into L1 influence on L2 writing. Modern Foreign Languages, (4), 30-38.

Hu, Z. L. (2001). Linguistics. Beijing: Peking University Press.

James, C. (2001). Errors in language learning and use: Exploring error analysis (pp.179-185). Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.

Jones, S., & Tetroe, J. (1987). Composing in a second language. In A. Matsuhashi (Eds.), Writing in real time (pp.34-57). Norwood, N:Ablex Publishing.

Lado, R. (1957). Linguistics across cultures. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Lay, N. (1982). Composing process of adult ESL learners: A case study. TESOL Quarterly, (16), 406-407.

Lennon, P. (1991). Error: Some problems of definition, identification and distinction. Applied Linguistics, 12(2) 180-196.

Lian. (1993). Principles of pragmatics. London: Longman.

McNeill, A. (1990). Vocabulary learning and teaching: Evidence from lexical errors in the spontaneous speech of ESL learners (pp.140-153). Oxford University Press.

Odlin, T. (1989). Language transfer: Cross-linguistic influence in language learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tan, C. L. (1999). Spotting English errors (p.52). Singapore: Success Publications.

Wang, L. F., & Wen, Q. F. (2004). The influences of L1 literacy on L2 writing: A study of Chinese tertiary EFL learners. Foreign Language Teaching and Research, (3), 205-212.

Wang, X. (2004). Encouraging self-monitoring in writing by Chinese students. ELT Journal, 58(3), 238-246.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 Cailing QIN

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Share us to:   


How to do online submission to another Journal?

If you have already registered in Journal A, then how can you submit another article to Journal B? It takes two steps to make it happen:

1. Register yourself in Journal B as an Author

Find the journal you want to submit to in CATEGORIES, click on “VIEW JOURNAL”, “Online Submissions”, “GO TO LOGIN” and “Edit My Profile”. Check “Author” on the “Edit Profile” page, then “Save”.

2. Submission

Go to “User Home”, and click on “Author” under the name of Journal B. You may start a New Submission by clicking on “CLICK HERE”.

We only use three mailboxes as follows to deal with issues about paper acceptance, payment and submission of electronic versions of our journals to databases:;;

 Articles published in Studies in Literature and Language are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC-BY).


Address: 9375 Rue de Roissy Brossard, Québec, J4X 3A1, Canada 
Telephone: 1-514-558 6138 
Website: Http://; Http://;;

Copyright © 2010 Canadian Academy of Oriental and Occidental Culture