Error Analysis: a case study with intermediate learners of English
Eskarza de Marcos, Arrate
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Error Analysis emerged following the traces of Contrastive linguistics, which has been a recurrent approach for research on Second Language Learning in the last century. Errors had been considered a negative response to language acquisition until the development of Error Analysis in the 60s. This perspective would state that there is a contrastive side in second language learning, and innovatively suggest that committing errors does not mean a failure in the learning process, but that it is a positive indicator of the natural steps of language learning. By using Error Analysis approach, the present study aimed at examining a collected corpus of 25 intermediate level essays written in English by students at the University of the Basque Country. The analysis centred on identifying and labelling all lexical and grammatical error occurrences, and determining whether the errors found had an L1 influence or not. The results showed, first, that in the majority of the cases the source of the error was the L2 itself, although, apparently, L1 played a significant role in many cases too, as other studies have previously stated on research with Spanish as L1. Secondly, grammatical errors seemed to occur more frequently than lexical ones, being especially recurrent those related to syntax and verb morphology. Among lexical errors, distortions were the most common errors found in the essays. The analysis of the findings resulted in the suggestion of several didactic implications, which are designed for the improvement of second language learning and teaching. These implications include giving importance to teaching specifically lexis, grammar and chunks; highlighting error feedback, self-edition and needs analysis; and finally taking into consideration gravity of errors and the impact that word processors may have in the process of writing. To conclude, some limitations of the study have been outlined, in order to give guidance on how future research could improve the current research area.