and error analysis
in learner language
The description may focus on kinds of
errors learners make and how these
errors change over time or it may identify
developmental patterns by describing
the stages in the acquisition of particular
grammatical features such as past tense
or it may examine the variability found in
However, there are good reasons for focusing on errors. First, they are
conspicuous feature of learner language, raising the important question of
‘why do learners make errors?’. Second, it is useful for teachers to know what
errors learners make. Third, paradoxically it is possible that making errors
may actually help learners to learn when they self-correct the errors they
make. To identify errors we have to compare the sentences learners produce
with what seem to be the normal or correct sentences in the target language
which correspond with them. Sometime his is straightforward. For example,
A man and a little boy was watching them
It is not difficult to see that the correct sentence should be:
A man and a little boy were watching them
It is the first step to take to analysis
errors made by learners.
Jean is an adult French learner, he
writes a paragraph of story.
A man and a little boy was watching
- was is supposed to were.
*… went in the traffic.
- in is supposed to be into
We can distinguish errors and mistakes
made by learners by checking the
consistency of learners performance.
But whenever learner can do self-correct
activity in producing the words then it
means that he posses the knowledge the
correct form but just slipping up the
One is to classify errors into
Another way might be to try to
identify general ways in which
the learners’ utterances differ
from the reconstructed targetlanguage utterances.
extent, systematic, and to a certain
extent, predictable. Errors are not only
systematic, many of them are also
universal. Thus, the kind of past tense
error found in jean’s speech has been
attested in the speech of may learners.
all errors are universal, some
errors are common only to
learners who share the same
mother tongue or whose mother
tongues manifest the same
in the sentence
Violate the overall structure of a
sentence and for this reason may
make it difficult process, Jean , for
example says: The policeman was in
the corner whistle….
Which is difficult to understand
because the basic structure of the
sentence is wrong
The early stages of acquisition
SILENT PERIOD : children make no attempt
to say anything to begin with (the learners
begin to speak in the L2 speech is likely to
manifest two particular characteristics)
Acquisition order investigating a number of
grammatical structures to study; i.e.
progressive –ing ,and plural-s
Do learners acquire the grammatical
structure of an L2 in a definite order?
Sequence of acquisition
Do learners learn such structure in a
single step or do they proceed through a
number of interim stages before they
master the target structure?
must be seen a process
involving transitional constructions.
The next sequence is U-shaped
course of development.
Learner language is systematic, that is, at a
particular stage of development, learners
consistently use the same grammatical form
although this is often different from that employed
by native speakers.
The crucial element in the
linguistic context involves
some other constituent of
the utterance. Example:
George playing football –
George played football all
In sentences referring past
tense which do not have
an adverb of frequency,
the learners are more likely
to use progressive marker.
Learners vary their use of
are more likely to use the
forms in formal contexts
and non-target forms in
informal contexts. another
important that accounts for
the systematic nature of
Whether learners have the
opportunity to plan their
on variability has sought
to show that, although allowance
should perhaps be made for
some free variation, variability in
learner language is systematic.
The use of specific grammatical
forms has been shown to vary
according to the linguistic context
ad the psycholinguistic context.
Ellis, Rod (1997) Second Language
Acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press
James, Carl (1998) Errors in Language
Learning and Use. Published in USA by
Gan, Zhengdong. (2012) ‘Understanding L2
Speaking Problems’ Australian Journal of
Teacher Education pp. 50-53.