An ELT Glossary : Overgeneralisation

  • Definition :  The application of a known rule in an inappropriate context 
  • Examples : a)  the learner who know that "s" is the plural suffix in English and produces sheeps, or b) the learner who knows that -ed is the English past tense marker and says I goed to Rome yesterday.
  • Overgeneralisation is evidence of learning rather than the opposite : it shows the learner has understood the rule though not its limitations.
  • Overgeneralisation is a natural part of language acquisition and is also seen in the speech of children learning their L1.