This paper presents a study that attributes verb serialization in the interlanguage of Vietnamese-speaking ESL learners to language transfer and, furthermore, puts forward the view that such transfer bears a resemblance to substrate influence in creoles with serial verb constructions (SVCs). In a task that elicited English causatives through pictures representing the causation of events, a subset of the Vietnamese-speaking participants in this study produced a number of serial-type constructions that reflected lexicosemantic aspects of causative SVCs in Vietnamese. Speakers of Hindi-Urdu, a nonserializing language used for comparative purposes, did not produce any equivalents. Additionally, serial-type constructions with second verbs (V2s) representing a result (e.g., cook butter melt) predominated at lower levels of lexical proficiency, whereas serials with make and a result (e.g., make broken) were more evenly distributed across proficiency levels. One inference based on the results is that certain serials are eliminated early in the acquisition process through positive evidence obtained via English input, whereas others continue to appear beyond the elementary level because of misleadingly similar constructions in the input. A comparison of the proficiency-based transfer of “cook butter melt” serials in this study and the inferred transfer of SVCs in creolization suggests that, whereas transfer processes in the two contexts are congruent in certain ways (often resulting from the exigencies of communication, limited access to the TL, and linguistic convergence), the processes diverge because of differences in target norms and input conditions. The latter two factors provide one explanation for why SVC-related transfer effects were limited to a subgroup of Vietnamese-speaking participants in this study.