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Linguistic Interference When Learning German as a Second Foreign Language. P. 120–126

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Section: Philology




Nikiforova Svetlana Anatolyevna
St. Petersburg School of Social Sciences and Humanities, National Research University Higher School of Economics
17 Promyshlennaya St., St. Petersburg, 198099, Russian Federation;


This article deals with linguistic interference, influence of Russian as a native language and English as a first foreign language on the acquisition of German as a second foreign language. The aim of this study was to identify peculiarities of multilingualism and interference of Russian and English with German. The author found that the effect of the English language on the process of learning German was greater than that of Russian. The English and German languages as genetically related systems, on the one hand, demonstrate many similarities resulting in the transfer of forms and structures, which has a positive effect on the acquisition of the new language. On the other hand, they have a number of differences that provoke interference based on likening and false analogies. The Russian language learned in a natural environment affects the process of mastering all new language systems that follow. The interference of Russian with foreign languages is most clearly manifested in prosody and intonation, which is primarily due to the methods of acquisition of these languages. As a rule, one does not start learning English or German before reaching the age of reason. Thus, instead of simply imitating, as in the case of one’s mother tongue, the person starts likening the language systems. At the same time, the first foreign language begins to produce a major influence on the second. It should be noted that the interference of English with German is clearly manifested in grammar and vocabulary. Graphic interference between these languages is due to psychological factors. The Latin alphabet creates an illusion of sameness of these different language systems. The degree of interference largely depends on the level of individual linguistic proficiency. Thus, increasing one’s linguistic proficiency is an effective way to prevent interference. It would also be of benefit to develop the ability to switch language codes. Common errors produced by a person where the languages are the most similar can be overcome by a targeted reinforcement of the foreign language material learnt.


language contacts, bilingualism, multilingualism, interference, Russian language, English language, German language, linguistic proficiency
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