4 learner error analysis


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4 learner error analysis

  1. 1. Chapter 8. Cross Linguistic Influenceand Learner language Chapter 8. (pp. 207-243)Brown, D. H. (2000). Principles of language learning andteaching. (4thed.). White Plains, NY: AddisonWesley Longman, Inc. Prepared by: Aníbal Muñoz ClaudioCourse: EDUC 8130Professor: Dr. María A. IrizarryDate: March 28, 2006
  2. 2. Preview The contrastive analysishypothesis ( CAH) From the CAH to CLI(cross-linguistic influence) Markedness and universalgrammar Learner language Error analysis Mistakes and errors Errors in error analysis Identifying and describingerrors (chart) Sources of errors Interlingual andintralingual transfers Context of learning Stages of learner languagedevelopment Variability in learnerlanguage Fossilization Form-focused instruction Error treatment A model for errortreatment (in theclassroom)
  3. 3. The contrastive analysis hypothesis Deeply rooted in the behavioristic and structuralistapproaches, the CAH claimed that the principal barrier to L2is the interference of L1system with the 2ndsystem. A scientific- structural analysis will develop a taxonomy oflinguistic contrasts between them which will enable thelinguist to predict the difficulties a learner would encounter. Clifford Prator (1967) captured the essence of thegrammatical hierarchy (Stockwell, Bowen, and Martin,1965) in six categories of difficulty –it was applicable to bothgrammatical and phonological features of language. Most of the examples are taken from English and Spanish
  4. 4. Six categories of hierarchy of difficulty(a native English speaker learning Spanish as L2) Level 0. No difference orcontrast is present between thetwo languages. The learner cansimply transfer a sound,structure, or lexical item fromthe native language to the targetlanguage. Level 1 –coalescence two itemsin the native language becomecoalesced into essentially oneitem in the target language.Example: English 3rdp.possessives require genderdistinction (his/her) and inSpanish they do not (su) Level 2 Underdifferentiation –anitem in the native language isabsent in the target language.The learner must avoid that item.Example: (adjectives in Spanishrequire gender (alto/alta) Level 3 Reinterpretation –anitem that exists in the nativelanguage is given a new shape ordistribution. Example: newphonemes require newdistribution of speecharticulators -/r/, etc.
  5. 5. Cont. Level 4. Overdifferentiation –a new item entirely,bearing any similarity to the native language item,must be learned. Example: English speakers mustlearn the use of determiners in Spanish –man ismortal/El hombre es mortal. Level 5. Split –one item in the native languagebecomes two or more in the target languagerequiring the learner to make a new distinction.English speakers must learn the distinction between(ser) and (estar)
  6. 6. From the CAH to CLI(cross-linguistic influence) Predictions of difficulty by means of contrastive procedureshad many shortcomings. The process could not account forall linguistic problems or situations not even with the 6categories. Lastly, the predictions of difficulty level could notbe verified with reliability. The attempt to predict difficulty by means of contrastiveanalysis was called the strong version of the CAH(Wardaugh, 1970) –a version that he believed unrealistic andimpractible. Wardaugh also recognized the weak version of the CAH –onein which the linguistic difficulties can be more profitablyexplained a posteriori by teachers and linguists. Whenlanguage and errors appear, teachers can utilize theirknowledge of the target language and native language tounderstand the sources of error.
  7. 7. CAH to CLI The so-called weak version of the CAH is whatremains today under the label cross-linguisticinfluence (CLI) –suggesting that we all recognize thesignificant role that prior experience plays in anylearning act, and the influence of the native languageas prior experience must not be overlooked. Syntactic , lexical, and semantic interference showfar more variation among learners than psycho-motor-based pronunciation interference.
  8. 8. Markedness and universal grammar Eckman (1977,1981) proposed a useful methodfor determining directionality of difficulty-markedness theory. It accounted for degrees of principles ofuniversal grammar.Eckman showed that markeditems in a language will be more difficult toacquire than unmarked, and that degree ofmarkedness will correspond to degrees ofdifficulty.
  9. 9. Markedness Celse-Murcia and Hawkins (1985:66) sum upmarkedness theory:It distinguishes members of a pair of related formsor structures by assuming that the marked member ofa pair contains at least one more feature than theunmarked one. In addition, the unmarked (neutral)member has a wider range of distribution than themarked one. In the English indefinite articles (a andan) an is the more complex or marked form. Verbsare the classic example for this pattern.
  10. 10. Learner language CAH stressed the interfering effects of L1 on L2 learning andclaimed, in its strong form, that L2 learning is primarily a processof acquiring whatever items are different from the L1. This narrow view of interference ignored the intralingual effects oflearning. Learners are consciously testing hypotheses about the targetlanguage from many possible sources of knowledge.1. knowledge of the native language2. limited knowledge of the target language itself3. knowledge of communicative functions of language4. knowledge about language in general5. knowledge about life, human beings, and the universe. Learners act upon the environment and construct what to them is alegitimate system of language in its own right.
  11. 11. Learner language The most obvious approach to analyzinginterlanguage is to study the speech and writing oflearners –learner language (Lightbown & Spada 1993) Production data is publicly observable and is presumably reflectiveof a learner’s underlying competence. It follows that the study of the speech and writing of learners islargely the study of the errors of learners. “Correct” productionyields little information about the actual linguistic system oflearners.
  12. 12. Error analysis Human learning is fundamentally a process that involves themaking of mistakes. They form an important aspect of learning virtually any skill oracquiring information. Language learning is like any other human learning. L2 learning is a process that is clearly not unlike L1 learning in itstrial-and-error nature. Inevitably, learners will make mistakes in theprocess of acquisition, and that process will be impeded if they donot commit errors and then benefit from various forms of feedbackon those errors. Corder (1967) noted: “a learner’s errors are significant in that theyprovide to the researcher evidence of how language is learned oracquired, what strategies or procedures the learner is employing inthe discovery of the language.”
  13. 13. Mistakes and errors In order to analyze learner language in an appropriateperspective, it is crucial to make a distinction betweenmistakes and errors, technically two very differentphenomena. Mistake –refers to a performance error that is either a randomguess or a “slip”, in that is a failure to utilize a known systemcorrectly. Native speakers make mistakes.When attention iscalled to them, they can be self-corrected. Error –a noticeable deviation from the adult grammar of anative speaker, reflects the competence of the learner (DoesJohn can sing?)
  14. 14. Mistakes and errors The fact that learners do make errors, andthese errors can be analyzed, led to a surge ofstudy of learners’ errors, called error analysis. Error analysis became distinguished fromcontrastive analysis by its examination oferrors attributable to all possible sources, notjust those resulting from negative transfer ofthe native language.
  15. 15. Errors in error analysis There is a danger in too much attention tolearner’s errors. A classroom teacher can become sopreoccupied with noticing errors that thecorrect utterances in L2 go unnoticed. While the diminishing of errors is animportant criterion for increasing languageproficiency, the ultimate goal of L2 learningis the attainment of communicative fluency.
  16. 16. Identifying and describing errors One of the most common difficulties in understanding thelinguistic systems of both L1 and L2 is the fact that suchsystems cannot be directly observed –they must be inferredby means of analyzing production and comprehension data. The first step in the process of analysis is the identificationand description of errors. Corder (1971) provided a model foridentifying erroneous or idiosyncratic utterances in a secondlanguage. (chart 8.1) p. 221 A major distinction is made between overt and covert errors.a. overt –erroneous utterances ungrammatically at the sentence levelb. covert –grammatically well-formed but not according to context ofcommunication.
  17. 17. examples Does John can sing?A. NOC. YESD. Can John sing?E. original sentencecontained pre-posed doauxiliary applicable tomost verbs, but not toverbs with auxiliaries.OUT 2 I saw their department.A. YESB. NO (context about livingquarters in Mexico)C. NOF. YES, SpanishG. Yo vi su departamento.H. I saw their apartment.E. Departamento wastranslated to false cognatedepartment. OUT 2
  18. 18. Categories for description of errors Errors of addition, omission, substitution, and ordering (math) Phonology or orthography, lexicon, grammar, and discourse Global or local (a scissors) Domain and extent
  19. 19. Interlingual and intralingual transfer Interlingual (L1 and L2) transfer is asignificant source of error for all learners. It is now clear that intralingual transfer(within the target language itself) is a majorfactor in L2 learning. It is referred to asovergeneralization. (see examples on p. 225)
  20. 20. Contexts of learning A third major source of error, although itoverlaps both types of transfer, is the contextof learning. Context refers, for example, to the classroomwith its teacher and its materials in the case ofschool learning or the social situation in thecase of untutored second language learning. In a classroom context the teacher or the textbook can lead tothe learner to make faulty hypotheses about the language.Richards (1971) called it “false concepts”
  21. 21. Stages of learner languagedevelopment Corder (1973) presents the progression of language learnersin four stages based on observations of what the learner doesin terms of errors alone.1. 1ststage –random errors, called pre-systematic in which thelearner is only vaguely aware that there is some systematicorder to a particular class of items.2. 2ndstage –(emergent) stage of learner language finds thelearner growing in consistency in linguistic production.Learner has begun to discern a system and to internalizecertain rules. Its characterized by ‘backsliding” –seems tograsp a a rule or principle and then regresses to previousstages.
  22. 22. Stages3. 3rdstage –truly systematic stage in which the learner is nowable to manifest more consistency in producing the secondlanguage. The most salient difference between the 2ndand the3rdstages is the ability of learners to correct their errors whenthey are pointed out.4. Final stage –stabilization stage; Corder (1973) called itpostsystematic stage. Here the learner has relatively fewerrors and has mastered the system to the point that fluencyand intended meanings are not problematic. This fourth stageis characterized by the learner’s ability to self-correct.
  23. 23. Variability in learner language A great deal of attention has been given to the variability ofinterlanguage development. Just like native speakers hesitate withexpressions in their own language, the same occurs in L2. Tarone (1988) focused her research on contextual variability, thatis, the extent to which both linguistic and situational contexts mayhelp to systematically describe what appear simply as unexplainedvariation. Tarone suggested four categories of variation:1. according to linguistic context2. according to psychological processing factors3. according to social context4. according to language function
  24. 24. Fossilization It is quite common to encounter in a learner’s language variouserroneous features that persist despite what is otherwise areasonably fluent command of the language. This phenomenon is most saliently manifested phonologically in‘foreign accents’ in the speech of those who have learned a L2after puberty (chapter 3). The relatively permanent incorporation of incorrect linguisticforms into a person’s second language competence has beenreferred to as FOSSILIZATION. It is a normal and natural stage for many learners and should not beviewed as some sort of terminal illness.
  25. 25. Error treatment Should errors be treated? How they should betreated? When? Vigil and Oller (1976) provided feedbackabout these questions with the followingmodel: Fossilization may be the result of too manygreen lights when there should have been someyellow or red lights.
  26. 26. Affective/cognitive feedback for errortreatmentDoes John can sing?red (-) abort(X) recycleMessage yellow (0)green (+) continue continueaffective cognitivefeedback feedback
  27. 27. Feedback Affective1. (positive) Keeptalking; I’m listening2. (neutral ) I’m not sureI want to continue thisconversation.3. (negative) Thisconversation is over Cognitive1. (pos.) I understandyour message; it’sclear.2. (neutral) I’m not sureif I correctlyunderstand you or not.3. I don’t understandwhat you are saying;it’s not clear.
  28. 28. Bailey (1985) recommended a useful taxonomy for error treatmentclassification; 7 basic options complemented by 7 possible features BASIC OPTIONS1. To treat or to ignore2. To treat immediately or delay3. To transfer treatment (otherlearners) or not4. To transfer to another individual,subgroup or the whole class5. To return , or not, to original errormaker after treatment6. To allow other learners to initiatetreatment7. To test for efficacy of the treatment POSSIBLE FEATURES1. Fact or error indicated2. Location indicated3. Opportunity for new attempt given4. Model provided5. Error type indicated6. Remedy indicated7. Improvement indicated8. Praise indicated
  29. 29. Summary The matter of how to correct errors isexceedingly complex. Research on error correction methods is not atall conclusive about the most effectivemethod or technique for error correction. It seems quite clear that students in theclassroom want and expect errors to becorrected.
  30. 30. In the classroom: A model for errortreatment Flow chart as an example of error treatment ina classroom