Interlanguage and Fossilization

Interlanguage and Fossilization

Interlanguage and Fossilization


Interlanguage is the term for a dynamic linguistic system that has been developed by a learner of a second language (or L2) who has not become fully proficient yet but is approximating the target language: preserving some features of their first language (or L1), or overgeneralizing target language rules in speaking or writing the target language and creating innovations.

Interlanguage work is a vibrant microcosm of linguistics. It is possible to apply an interlanguage perspective to learners’ underlying knowledge of the target language sound system (interlanguage phonology), grammar (morphology and syntax), vocabulary (lexicon), and language-use norms found among learners (interlanguage pragmatics).


Fossilization is the ‘freezing’ of the transition between the native language and the target language.

Fossilization occurs when a L2 learner is capable of conveying message with current language knowledge, therefore the need to correct the form/structure is not required. Thus, the learner fossilizes the form instead of correcting it.

Reasons for this phenomenon may be due to

  1. Complacency 
  2. Inability to overcome the obstacles to acquiring native proficiency in the target language

Fossilized Errors Examples

Fossilized errors are usually made  because of the influency of the mother tongue. 

These are some common mistakes students tend to make unless they are corrected

  1. I have 20 years old. ( Learner uses verb to have instead of  verb to be)
  2. Do you know where is she? (Learner doesn’t know how to make embedded questions)
  3. She is long hair ( Learner uses verb to be instead of verb to have)

Follow on Facebook

You can check our latest articles in any of these pages:

  1. Teaching English in Costa Rica

More Information

Check these pages and sites before you go:

Jose Manuel Campos N - English Professor

About manuel Campos

I am Jose Manuel, English professor and creator of, a blog whose mission is to share lessons for those who want to learn and improve their English