Simplification in Language Learning: What Do Learners Simplify?

Abdulmoneim Mahmoud


This article focuses on the notion of 'simplification' in language learning from the perspective of the learner and that of the teacher. Instead of using the term to refer to a learning and communication strategy whereby learners drop certain linguistic elements, we believe that it can be reserved for the caretakers and language teachers who 'simplify' their language to communicate with the learners. The learners' use of a reduced system is due either to cognitive limitations or the use of various learning and communication strategies which lead to the omission, insertion, substitution or mis-ordering of linguistic elements. Language learners use interlingual and intralingual transfer strategies in an attempt to facilitate the task of learning and communicating in the target language. Omission of linguistic elements is not intended to 'simplify' the language. The linguistic elements that learners add due to transfer may be more than those they omit. Hence, linguistic simplification by caretakers and language teachers needs to be distinguished from the simplification of the learning task by the learners.

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