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بانک سوالات دبیرستان و پیش دانشگاهی . مکالمه . مقالات . آپدیت روزانه Nod 32

Language Learners’ Errors – Approaches of Significance
نویسنده : غلامعلی عباسی - ساعت ۱٢:٥٩ ‎ق.ظ روز ۱۳٩٠/٧/۱۳
 
 

 Abstract 

 At first sight , it may seem rather odd to focus on what learners get wrong rather than on what they get right. However, there are good reasons for focusing on errors. Many teachers nowadays regard student errors as evidence that progress is being made. Errors often show us that a student is experimenting with language, trying out ideas, taking risks, attempting to communicate, and making progress. Analyzing what errors have been made clarifies exactly where the learner has reached and helps set the syllabus for future language work. In dealing with errors, teachers have looked for correction techniques that, rather than simply giving learners the answer on a plate, help them to make their own correction. This may raise their own awareness about the language they are using. So it is important for the teacher to understand, and to feel deeply, that errors are inevitable and a natural part of the learning process. It is important for the teacher to transmit this attitude to learners. The learner who understands that learning involves making mistakes, errors, is more likely to make progress. Therefore, the important titles explained in details in this article are:

-                      different kinds of errors, especially certain errors which are often very important to the communication

-                      Sources of errors

-                      different steps in analyzing learner errors before inviting correction

-                      different correction techniques

-                      over-correction

 

Key words: mistakes, errors, analyzing errors, correction techniques,

                   over-correction

چکیده

شاید در نگاه اول پرداختن به خطاهای یادگیرندگان بجای توجه به عملکردهای صحیح آنان عجیب به نظر آید اما دلایل قانع کننده ای برای تمرکز بر روی خطاهای یادگیرندگان وجود دارد:

امروزه برای بیشتر معلمین خطاهای دانش آموزان مدرکی است که میزان پیشرفت آنها را نشان میدهد. اغلب موارد خطاها نشان میدهند که تا چه میزان دانش آموز با زبان درگیر شده و در حال آزمون و خطاست و تا چه حد برای برقراری ارتباط تلاش کرده و پیشرفت نموده است. تجزیه خطاهایی که توسط یادگیرندگان انجام می شود دقیقاً مشخص می کند که آنها به چه مرحله ای رسیده اند و بعلاوه در تدوین برنامه درسی بعدی نیز بسیار کمک کننده است . زمانیکه دانش آموزان اشتباه می کنند بیشتر معلمین بجای اینکه پاسخ صحیح را مستقیماً به دانش آموز ارائه کنند به دنیال تکنیک های تصحیح هستند چون آگاهی یادگیرندگان را نسبت به زبانی که استفاده می کنند بالا می برد بنابراین بسیار مهم است که معلمین بدانند خطاها جزئی غیر قابل اجتناب و بخشی طبیعی از فرایند یادگیری هستند و باید این مهم را نیز به دانش آموزان منتقل کنند.     یادگیرنده ای که بداند خطا کردن جزئی از فرایند یادگیری است پیشرفت بیشتری خواهد داشت.

به همین جهت عناوین زیر به تفضیل در این مقاله شرح داده می شوند :

? انواع مختلف خطاها ، خصوصاً انواع خاصی که مربوط به فرایند ارتباط برقرار کردن هستند

?  منشا خطاها

? تجزیه خطاها قبل از تصحیح آنها

? تکنیکهای تصحیح خطاها

? تصحیح بیش از حد

کلمات کلیدی : اشتباهات ، خطاها ، تجزیه خطاها ، تکنیکهای تصحیح ، تصحیح بیش از حد

 

  

Introduction

Language is complex phenomenon, and language learning a correspondingly complex activity. Many factors contribute towards the success or failure of the individual language learner. One of the most important, however is probably the confidence the learner has in his ability to succeed in the task. Teachers frequently undermine this confidence by emphasizing the difficulties the student faces. Probably even more important, however, in undermining the learners’ confidence, is the teacher’s over-zealous correction of mistakes. Inevitably it will appear unnatural and few students will succeed. Most students learning a foreign language, except the very young, bring with them the idea that the new language will behave like their own mother tongue. Interference of this kind will mean that structural mistakes are inevitable. It is necessary that teachers transmit to students the idea that mistakes are an essential part of the learning process, and definitely not something to be feared (James, 1998; Lewis, 2007).

     All students make mistakes at various stages of their language learning. It is part of the natural process they are going through and occurs for a number of reasons. In the first place, the students’ own language may get in the way. This is most obviously the case with ‘false friends’ – those words which sound or look the same but mean something different. False friends are more common where the learner’s language shares a common heritage with English (i.e. Romance languages).

     Grammatical considerations matter too: Japanese students frequently have trouble with article usage, Germans have to get used to positioning the verb correctly, Arabic students have to deal with a completely different written system etc. (James, 1998).

     Interference from the students’ own language is not the only reason for making mistakes. There is a category which a number of people call ‘developmental’ errors. These are the result of conscious or subconscious processing which frequently overgeneralises a rule, as, for example, when a student, having learnt to say things like ‘I have to go’, then starts saying ‘I must to go , not realizing that the use of ‘to’ is not permitted with ‘must’.  

     Some mistakes are deep-seated and need constant attention (ask experienced teachers about the third-person singular of the present simple!). While these are examples of ‘errors’, others seem to be more like ‘slips’ made while students are simultaneously processing information and they are therefore easier to correct quickly.

     Whatever the reason for ‘getting it wrong’, it is vital for the teacher to realize that all students make mistakes as a natural and useful way of learning. By working out when and why things have gone wrong, they learn more about the language they are studying (Hokkanen, 2001; Schneider, 1998).

 


 

 Abstract

 Language Learners’ Errors – Approaches of Significance

 

 At first sight , it may seem rather odd to focus on what learners get wrong rather than on what they get right. However, there are good reasons for focusing on errors. Many teachers nowadays regard student errors as evidence that progress is being made. Errors often show us that a student is experimenting with language, trying out ideas, taking risks, attempting to communicate, and making progress. Analyzing what errors have been made clarifies exactly where the learner has reached and helps set the syllabus for future language work. In dealing with errors, teachers have looked for correction techniques that, rather than simply giving learners the answer on a plate, help them to make their own correction. This may raise their own awareness about the language they are using. So it is important for the teacher to understand, and to feel deeply, that errors are inevitable and a natural part of the learning process. It is important for the teacher to transmit this attitude to learners. The learner who understands that learning involves making mistakes, errors, is more likely to make progress. Therefore, the important titles explained in details in this article are:

-                      different kinds of errors, especially certain errors which are often very important to the communication

-                      Sources of errors

-                      different steps in analyzing learner errors before inviting correction

-                      different correction techniques

-                      over-correction

 

Key words: mistakes, errors, analyzing errors, correction techniques,

                   over-correction

 

 

چکیده

شاید در نگاه اول پرداختن به خطاهای یادگیرندگان بجای توجه به عملکردهای صحیح آنان عجیب به نظر آید اما دلایل قانع کننده ای برای تمرکز بر روی خطاهای یادگیرندگان وجود دارد:

امروزه برای بیشتر معلمین خطاهای دانش آموزان مدرکی است که میزان پیشرفت آنها را نشان میدهد. اغلب موارد خطاها نشان میدهند که تا چه میزان دانش آموز با زبان درگیر شده و در حال آزمون و خطاست و تا چه حد برای برقراری ارتباط تلاش کرده و پیشرفت نموده است. تجزیه خطاهایی که توسط یادگیرندگان انجام می شود دقیقاً مشخص می کند که آنها به چه مرحله ای رسیده اند و بعلاوه در تدوین برنامه درسی بعدی نیز بسیار کمک کننده است . زمانیکه دانش آموزان اشتباه می کنند بیشتر معلمین بجای اینکه پاسخ صحیح را مستقیماً به دانش آموز ارائه کنند به دنیال تکنیک های تصحیح هستند چون آگاهی یادگیرندگان را نسبت به زبانی که استفاده می کنند بالا می برد بنابراین بسیار مهم است که معلمین بدانند خطاها جزئی غیر قابل اجتناب و بخشی طبیعی از فرایند یادگیری هستند و باید این مهم را نیز به دانش آموزان منتقل کنند.     یادگیرنده ای که بداند خطا کردن جزئی از فرایند یادگیری است پیشرفت بیشتری خواهد داشت.

به همین جهت عناوین زیر به تفضیل در این مقاله شرح داده می شوند :

? انواع مختلف خطاها ، خصوصاً انواع خاصی که مربوط به فرایند ارتباط برقرار کردن هستند

?  منشا خطاها

? تجزیه خطاها قبل از تصحیح آنها

? تکنیکهای تصحیح خطاها

? تصحیح بیش از حد

کلمات کلیدی : اشتباهات ، خطاها ، تجزیه خطاها ، تکنیکهای تصحیح ، تصحیح بیش از حد

 

  

Introduction

Language is complex phenomenon, and language learning a correspondingly complex activity. Many factors contribute towards the success or failure of the individual language learner. One of the most important, however is probably the confidence the learner has in his ability to succeed in the task. Teachers frequently undermine this confidence by emphasizing the difficulties the student faces. Probably even more important, however, in undermining the learners’ confidence, is the teacher’s over-zealous correction of mistakes. Inevitably it will appear unnatural and few students will succeed. Most students learning a foreign language, except the very young, bring with them the idea that the new language will behave like their own mother tongue. Interference of this kind will mean that structural mistakes are inevitable. It is necessary that teachers transmit to students the idea that mistakes are an essential part of the learning process, and definitely not something to be feared (James, 1998; Lewis, 2007).

     All students make mistakes at various stages of their language learning. It is part of the natural process they are going through and occurs for a number of reasons. In the first place, the students’ own language may get in the way. This is most obviously the case with ‘false friends’ – those words which sound or look the same but mean something different. False friends are more common where the learner’s language shares a common heritage with English (i.e. Romance languages).

     Grammatical considerations matter too: Japanese students frequently have trouble with article usage, Germans have to get used to positioning the verb correctly, Arabic students have to deal with a completely different written system etc. (James, 1998).

     Interference from the students’ own language is not the only reason for making mistakes. There is a category which a number of people call ‘developmental’ errors. These are the result of conscious or subconscious processing which frequently overgeneralises a rule, as, for example, when a student, having learnt to say things like ‘I have to go’, then starts saying ‘I must to go , not realizing that the use of ‘to’ is not permitted with ‘must’.  

     Some mistakes are deep-seated and need constant attention (ask experienced teachers about the third-person singular of the present simple!). While these are examples of ‘errors’, others seem to be more like ‘slips’ made while students are simultaneously processing information and they are therefore easier to correct quickly.

     Whatever the reason for ‘getting it wrong’, it is vital for the teacher to realize that all students make mistakes as a natural and useful way of learning. By working out when and why things have gone wrong, they learn more about the language they are studying (Hokkanen, 2001; Schneider, 1998).

 

Different kinds of errors

     Errors are, to a large extent, systematic and universal and, to a certain extent, predictable. Of course , not all errors are universal. Some errors are common only to learners who share the same mother tongue or whose mother tongues manifest the same linguistic property. For example, speakers of Bantu languages in southern Africa frequently use the preposition "at" to refer to direction as well as location, producing errors such as:

We went at Johannesburg last week (Ellis, 1997).

     We can divide errors into three broad categories: "slips" (that is mistakes which students can correct themselves once the error has been pointed out to them), "errors" (mistakes which they cannot correct themselves-and which therefore need

explanation), and "attempts" ( that is when a student tries to say something but does not yet know the correct way of saying it (Harmer 2001, p.99).

     Teachers often worry about when to correct but an equally, if not more important question is what to correct. Traditionally, language teachers have concentrated on certain types of mistake – poor pronunciation. wrong choice of vocabulary, and, most importantly of all, structural errors. While these are important, there are other kinds of mistake which may, on occasion, be more important.

     The kinds of mistake listed above are usually ‘obvious’, and, as such, rarely destroy communication. With the increasing emphasis on communicative language teaching, however, certain other mistakes which are often very important to the communication, need to be considered. Here are some of the most important:

  

Stress

It is frequently more difficult to listen to and understand someone whose stress patterns are non-standard than somebody who produces individual sound in a non-standard way.

Intonation

Intonation is important in English, particularly to express emotion and attitude, both of which are frequently very important in oral communication. Sometimes language can be grammatically correct but completely inappropriate in the context in which it is used for example, errors made in intonation and rhythm; in fact wrong intonation seems to cause more unintended offence to native speakers than almost any other kind of error. The student who is more advanced – has good vocabulary, structure, and pronunciation – but who uses flat, uninteresting intonation will frequently be misunderstood – not in terms of the factual content of the message, but, more importantly, in terms of attitude.

 

Register and appropriacy

Certain language is appropriate only to certain situations, or for use with certain people. Once again, more advanced students can give the wrong impression of their attitude to other people or to a topic by the choice of grammatically correct but inappropriate language. Such students will need to be ‘corrected’ in the sense that they will need to be given alternative more appropriate ways of expressing themselves.

 

Omissions

With free communicative practice, pair work, or situations, frequently the most important ‘mistakes’ are things which students do not say. The student whose English is otherwise good who uses “I want one of those” to ask for something in a shopping situation will give an unfortunate impression. The student needs to be corrected by being asked to say something different, and above all by being reminded that the omission of “please” in important.

     The distinction between fluency and accuracy needs constantly to be borne in mind. But particularly for students who are good intermediate or advanced, the teacher needs to have a much wider concept of mistakes than simply correcting pronunciation, vocabulary or structural error (Baker, 2006; Davies, et al.,2000; Dornyei, 2001).

 

Sources of errors

     According to Harmer (2001), there are three sources of errors:

1. Interference: the beginning stages of learning a second or foreign language are characterized by a good deal of interlingual transfer from the native language, or,      interference. In these early stages, before the system of the second or foreign language is familiar, the native language is the only linguistic system in previous experience upon which the learner can draw. We have all heard English learners say “the pen of Tom” instead of “Tom’s pen”.

2. Generalization: when learners have begun to acquire parts of the new system, more and more intralingual transfer – generalization within the target language – is manifested. As learners progress in the second or foreign language, their previous experience and their existing subsumers begin to include structures within the target language itself. Negative intraligual transfer, or overgeneralization, has already been illustrated in such utterances as “Does john can read?” or “I don’t remember where did she go”.

3. Context of learning : “context” refers, for example, to the classroom with its teacher and its materials. In a classroom context the teacher or the textbook can lead the learner to make faulty hypotheses about the language. Student often make errors because of a misleading explanation from the teacher, faulty presentation of a structure or word in a textbook, or even because of a pattern that was rotely memorized in a drill but not properly contextualized. Two vocabulary items presented contiguously – for example, “point at” and “point out”.

 

Different steps in analyzing learner errors before inviting correction         

     According to Ellis (1997), there are three important steps in analyzing learner errors:

1) The first step is to identify errors. Are they “slips”, “errors”, “attempts” (as mentioned before)? When the teacher diagnoses the kind of error, he/she can decide whether it is necessary to correct the learner or not.

2) The second step is to classify errors into types. Classifying errors can help the teacher to diagnose learners’ learning problems at any one stage of their development and, also, to plot how changes in error patterns occur over time.

3) The third step is to pay attention to the source of the error. When the teacher knows the source of the error, he/she can decide whether it is essential to correct the learner or not.

     Most researchers such as Heift (2007), James (1998), and Lewis (2007) believe five decisions should be made by the teacher before inviting correction or helping the learner towards a correction:

1. Decide what kind of error has been made. An important consideration here is the aim of the activity. Is it to improve learners’ accurate use of English? If this is the case, then immediate correction is much more appropriate than in an activity where fluency is the objective (and interruptions and corrections might get in the way of the work). This is a very important distinction and it is dealt with in more detail in another section.

2. Decide whether to deal with it (is it useful to correct it?). There are other factors to take into account when deciding if a correction should be made: Will it help or hinder learning? Am I correcting something they haven’t learned yet? (If so there doesn’t seem much point.) How will the student take the correction? What is my intention in correcting?

3. Decide when to deal with it (now? End of activity? later?). The teacher should be careful about when to correct. The options include: immediately; after a few minutes; at the end of the activity; later in the lesson; at the end of lesson; in the next lesson; later in the course; never. The distinction between accuracy and fluency aims is again important here. If the objective is accuracy, then immediate correction is more likely to be useful; if the aim is fluency, then immediate correction is less appropriate and any correction will probably come after the activity has finished or later.

4. Decide who will correct (teacher? Student self-correction? course book? other students: student-student /small group / all class?).

     If a student makes a mistake, before doing anything else the teacher should pause and wait. If the student can correct him-or herself nothing more needs to be said. The main principle of correction is that self-correction is best. If the student is not able to provide self-correction the teacher should invite other students in the class to comment before providing the correct language. There are a number of important reasons for this – it helps to keep all the class involved while an individual is answering a question; by involving students in correcting each other it makes clear that language learning for them is a corporate activity and, however competitive their examinations may be, their actual language lessons do not need to be competitive in that way. Finally, and significantly, it reduces the element of teacher domination which is inevitable with over-zealous teacher correction (Heift, 2007; Lewis, 2007).

5. Decide on an appropriate technique to indicate that an error has occurred.

     Some ideas for indicating errors:

? Tell them (eg There’s an error in that sentence).  

? Facial expression: surprise; frown; raised eyebrows; interest.

? Gesture combined with facial expression (eg worried look and hand outstretched

    to ‘hold’ the  sentence – you  won’t  let the  class  move  on until they deal with the   

    sentence you are holding).

? Finger correction (hold on to the ‘error’ finger – eg the third word).

? Repeat sentence up to error (eg They looked for a …?)

? Echo sentence with changed intonation or stress (eg You go to a hospital   yesterday? or He wanted to eat a kitchen?)

? Ask a question (eg Was this last week?)

? Ask a one word question (eg Tense? Past?)

? Draw a time line on the board.

? Draw spaces or boxes on the board to show the number of words in a sentence.

  Indicate which word is the problem.

  eg He – – – – –

                                            

?  Write the problem sentence on board for discussion.

? Exploit the humour in the error (eg Student: The doctor gave her a recipe.  Teacher: So she made a nice cake? Student: Oh not the right word? Another  student: Prescription.)

? Use the phonemic chart to point at an incorrect phoneme (Hinkle, 2005; Lightbown, 1999).

Different correction techniques

If it becomes necessary for the teacher to provide a correction it is essential to do so in the most helpful manner possible. If a student has made a small mistake in a whole sentence – this means most of what the student said was correct. Isolating the mistake both helps to correct, and avoids the de-motivating effect of suggesting that all of what the student said was unsatisfactory.

     Even after the individual student and class have failed to provide self-correction, it is still not necessary for the teacher to give the correction. The teacher can repeat the incorrect utterance and, by pausing immediately before or after the mistake, highlight it in the hope that this will be sufficient help to encourage a student to produce the correct answer. More explicitly, the teacher may name the mistake precisely: Peter and Jill is in the garden – Not ‘is’… Only as a last resort does the teacher give the correct answer.

     In the case of pronunciation mistakes it must be emphasized that isolating the mistake involves not only isolating the particular word which was said wrongly, but the particular sound. While every attempt should be made to encourage students to correct themselves, the process is never one of trying to trick students. The teacher’s constant strategy should be to direct the students’ attention towards the mistake while, at the same time, not simply jumping in with a correcting (Heift, 2007; Hinkle, 2005).

     According to Harmer (2001), the way we assess and correct students will depend not only upon the kind of errors being made (and the reasons for them), but also on the type of activity the learners are taking part in. Therefore, we need to make a clear difference between "non – communicative" and "communicative" activities. In fact a distinction should be made between accuracy and fluency. We need to decide whether a particular activity in the classroom is designed to expect the learners’ complete accuracy – as in the study of a piece of grammar, a pronunciation exercise, or some vocabulary work for example – or whether we are asking the students to use the language as fluently as possible.

     When students are involved in accuracy work it is part of the teacher’s function to point out and correct the errors the learners are making. The teacher needs to focus on the correct from in more detail. She/he can say the correct version emphasizing the part where there is a problem before saying the sentence normally, or she/he can say the incorrect part correctly. If necessary the teacher can explain the grammar, or a lexical issue. Then she/he will ask the learner to repeat the utterance correctly (Dornyei, 2001; Hamer, 2001).

     When learners are involved in fluency work it is better for teachers to act as observers so that they can correct afterwards. One of the problems of making correction after the event is that it is easy to forget what learners have said. Most teachers, therefore, write down points they want to refer to later, and some like to use charts or other forms of categorization to help them to do this. Another technique teachers can make use when involving in fluency work, is gentle correction. According to Harmer (2001), Hokkanen (2008), and James (1998), if communication breaks down completely during a fluency activity, the teacher may well have to intervene. If the learners cannot think of what to say, the teacher may want to prompt them forwards. If this is just the right moment to point out a language feature the teacher may offer a form of correction and this is called ‘gentle correction’.

 

 Written Correction Techniques

     One way of making correction is offering comments in the margin of the student’s work instead of assessing what they have done. When the teacher give comments, she/he says how the text appears to her/him and how successful she/he thinks it has been (Harmer, 2001; Lewis, 2007).

     Another way of making correction is using codes. The teacher can put the codes either in the body of the writing or in a corresponding margin. According to Harmer (2001), and Hokkanen (2008), using codes makes correction much neater, less threatening and considerably more helpful than random marks and comments. Frequently used symbols of this kind refer to issues such as word order, spelling, or verb tense. For example, the teacher uses symbol "s" to refer to incorrect spelling or "w.o." to show the wrong order. Of course, it is necessary for the teacher to give these symbols to students before making correction.

  Over-correction

    Errors are a natural part of the learning process, so over-emphasis on correction by the teacher can have a de-motivating effect. The implication is clear – it is the teacher’s job to select those errors which are worth correcting within the context in which they are produced.

    Most learners expect their teachers to give them feedback on their performance but the immediate and constant correction of all errors is not necessarily an effective way of helping course participants improve their English. In fact intensive correction can be unpleasant during accuracy work, too (Davies, 2000; Heift, 2007).

    Over-use of even gentle correction (as explained in previous section) will be counter-productive. By constantly interrupting the flow of the activity, the teacher may bring it to a standstill. What the teacher has to judge, therefore, is whether a quick reformulation or prompt may help the conversation move along without intruding too much or whether, on the contrary, it is not especially necessary and has the potential to get in the way of the conversation (Hinkle, 2005; Lightbown, 1999).

 

Conclusions

    Most of the recent researches revealed that errors reflect the stage of development that a learner has reached and correction helps students to clarify their understanding of the meaning and construction of language. It is a vital part of the teacher’s role, and something which the teacher is uniquely able to provide, but precisely because it involves pointing out people’s mistakes, we have to be careful when correcting since, if we do it in an insensitive way, we can upset our students and dent their confidence. What is appropriate for one student may be quite wrong for another one. In general the teacher’s job is to point out when something has gone wrong – and see if the student can correct herself or himself. Maybe what they said or wrote was just a slip and they are able to put it right straightaway. Sometimes, however, students can not put errors right on their own, so the teacher has to help them. Of course, most of the time students enjoy helping each other – and being helped in return and sometimes they prefer gentle correction from the teacher.

    Corrections may or may not include a clarification of why the mistake was made, and may or may not require re-production of the acceptable form by the learner. There are some situations where we might prefer not to correct a learner’s error: in fluency work, for example, when the learner is in mid-speech, and to correct would disturb and discourage more than help. But there are other situations when correction is likely to be helpful. In fact it is appropriate to correct immediately during accuracy practices, but to avoide disturbing the spontaneity of fluency practices (such as communicative practices). In the case of fluency work teachers should keep a small pad of paper beside them and make a note of the important errors in order to refer to and correct them later.

    Most experienced teachers are familiar with the phenomenon of recurring corrections of the same error which do not seem to lead to improvement. They would rather invest time and energy in creating opportunities for learners to get things right as much as possible than in painstaking work on correcting errors.

 

Reference

Baker, C. (2006). Foundations of bilingual education and bilingualism. New York: Multilingual Matters.

Davies, p.,& Pearse, E. (2000). Success in English teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dornyei, Z (2001). New themes and approaches in second language motivation  research. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 21, 43-59.

Ellis, R. (1997). Second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Harmer, J. (2001). The practice of English language teaching. London: Longman.

Heift, T.,& Schulze, M.(2007). Errors and intelligence in computer – assisted  language learning. London: Routledge.

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