MT Influence or Mother Tongue Influence is when the grammar or vocabulary of a student’s Mother Tongue influence the way in which they use their Target Language or TL.
For example, in Greek (and a number of other languages) people say open or close a light instead of turn on and turn off. Thus a Greek learner may well say:
* I closed the light and went to sleep.
* an asterisk at the beginning of a sentence denotes it to be ungrammatical
What they have done here is use a Greek expression and simply converted it to English. This is an example of their MT influencing the TL.
Similarly in Italian (and some other languages) hair and spaghetti are always plural, whereas in English they are singular non-countable nouns. An Italian student might say:
* My hair are wet.
* The spaghetti are ready.
It is sometimes useful to have a working knowledge of the students’ MT in order to be able to understand why certain mistakes are being made.
What is Mother Tongue? – a look at your mother tongue
Do I need to speak the Local Language to Teach Abroad? – an interesting question!