I am a Sudanese ELT Lecturer.I have been working in Saudi Arabia since 2004. This is my first contribution in Teaching English website. The ideas in this article are based on my own classroom experience and observations . I have been teaching English as a foreign language for over 13 years. After I finished the course of a post graduate diploma in ELT in 1999, I was able to detect the different types of errors in my students’ writing assignments. Observing the students’ writing assignments , I noticed a lot of errors were attributed to the differences between their native language NL (Arabic Language,) and the foreign language FL which is (English).Since there is a claim in ELT, which says " the most difficult areas of foreign language learning are the areas of differences between the two languages" .I have investigated and analyzed the textbooks and other materials which were selected by the college committee to be taught in essay writing courses. Regarding the differences between English and Arabic languages, I found that the textbooks were basically designed for foreign learners, but they don't include any related needs of Arab learners who are learning English in a foreign language context.
I used the procedure of Error Analysis to help me investigate my students’ needs. I selected randomly a sample of 20 essays written by 3rd.level students. The criterion of this selection is that they have received some training and practice in writing courses. I followed the steps of Error Analysis, starting with identification and description of errors to the explanation and evaluation of the errors.
The main objective of using the Error Analysis was to help me to know the main causes/ sources which were behind the errors that the students made at different linguistic levels (grammatical, lexical, syntactic and semantic levels).
I based the analysis on the literature of Corder, 1974 and Richards, 1974, James, 1998, Selinker, 1972 in Richards, 1974, Richards & Sampson, 1974). Their Taxonomy for Error Analysis includes the following categories and sub-categories: -
1.grammatical (prepositions, articles, reported speech ,singular and plural, adjectives, relative clauses, irregular verbs, tenses, and possessive case),
2. Syntactic (coordination, sentence structure, nouns and pronouns, and word order)
3.lexical (word choice)
4. Semantic & substance (mechanics: punctuation & capitalization, and spelling).
Based on the Corder and others, the errors were explained in grammatical, lexical, syntactic and semantic terms, and thoroughly examined to find their sources. The error sources were mainly Interlingual (Negative L1 Transfer/Interference) & Intralingual (Developmental).
In the following term, I used the findings of this analysis (with a coordination with the department of English) in ;
- Material selection
- Classroom practice especially when I come to problematic areas ,as contrastive analysiys claim (where students are expected to make errors)
Dear colleagues, I want to know your opinions concerning Error Analysis and Contrastive Analysis as applied in ELT. Also I would like to share your similiar ideas and experience about the application of these two techniques in syllabus design and teaching methodolgies?
Thank youElbadri Abbas
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