Sep. 2007, Volume 4, No.9 (Serial No.34)
US-China Education Review, ISSN1548-6613, USA
Error analysis and the EFL classroom teaching
XIE Fang, JIANG Xue-mei
(College of Foreign Languages, Liaoning Normal University, Dalian Liaoning 116029, China)
Abstract: This paper makes a study of error analysis and its implementation in the EFL (English as Foreign Language) classroom teaching. It starts by giving a systematic review of the concepts and theories concerning EA (Error Analysis), the various reasons causing errors are comprehensively explored. The author proposes that teachers should employ different and flexible error treatment strategies in accordance with the teaching objectives, students’ linguistic competence, their affective factors and the effectiveness of the error correction. Key words: error analysis; contrastive analysis; interlanguage; EFL classroom teaching
In foreign language learning, error correction has become one of the important teaching processes. But actually, few teachers know a lot about error analysis and some related theories. They often take so negative attitudes toward errors that they could not tolerate any errors and tend to correct them as soon as they could find any. As a result, although they think they have been working hard enough and spend much time and energy working on error correction, their effort is not effective and the students do not believe they have benefited a lot. On the contrary, the students often feel upset, for they have found that there is a great gap between themselves and their teachers in dealing with errors and understanding of error correction. So we find it necessary to have a theoretical foundation about error analysis. In the next section, the development of the theory—error analysis would be briefly reviewed.
2. Theoretical development of error analysis
2.1 Contrastive analysis In the 1950s, American linguist Robert Lado began to study errors systematically and developed theories about errors—contrastive analysis. Contrastive analysis hypothesis claimed that the principal barrier to second language acquisition is the interference of the first language system with the second language system and that a scientific, structural comparison of the two languages in question would enable people to predict and describe which are problems and which are not. Deeply rooted in behaviorism and structuralism, they held that human language learning was to change old habits and to build new habits. Errors occur when learners could not respond correctly to a particular stimulus in the second language. Since an error may serve as a negative stimulus which reinforces “bad habits”, it should not be allowed to occur. So, in the classroom teaching, they placed more emphasis on mechanical pattern drills and attempted to correct any errors or mistakes wherever there were.
XIE Fang (1965- ), female, associate professor, College of Foreign Languages, Liaoning Normal University; research fields: English language teaching, applied linguistics. JIANG Xue-mei (1973- ), female, lecturer, College of Foreign Languages, Liaoning Normal University; research fields: English language teaching, applied linguistics. 10
Error analysis and the EFL classroom teaching
2.2 Interlanguage and its features The weaknesses of contrastive analysis are that it overemphasized the interference of the outer environment of language study, but the language learners themselves are totally neglected. While interlanguage intended to explore learning strategies based on the learners’ errors, and it has become the basis of error analysis. What is interlanguage? It is a term that Selinker (1972) adopted from “interlingual”. It refers to the separateness of a second language learners’ system that has a structurally intermediate status between the native and target language learners. A number of terms have been coined to describe the perspective which stressed the legitimacy of...
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(Edited by REN Li-ping and ZHANG Dong-ling)
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