Introduction To Error Analysis

Introduction To Error Analysis
1. There has long been an interest in collection, description and classification of
commonly occurring errors – but in a rather unprincipled way – for teaching
2. 1950’s and 1960’s Error Analysis became linked to Contrastive Analysis: aim to
predict error on basis of difference between two languages rather than
investigate psycholinguistic causes of error. Error was explained as
‘interference’ c.f. Weinreich (1953:7)
“interlingual identifications”
3. Corder (1967) refocused attention on error from the perspective of language
processing and language acquisition. He stressed the learner’s positive
cognitive contribution to learning:
‘transitional competence’
‘inbuilt syllabus’
errors are a necessary part of linguistic development
errors represent the discrepancy between the learner’s transitional
competence (or ‘interlanguage’, Selinker, 1972) and the target
learners’ inbuilt syllabus may determine order in which the grammar is
acquired + studying error may supply clues to this order
But Corder distinguishes between ‘errors’ (of ‘competence’) and
‘mistakes’ (i.e. ‘performance’ slips or lapses). ‘Mistakes’ do not provide
data on ‘transitional competence’
Note: Later work has suggested the ‘competence’ – ‘performance’
distinction is not clear-cut for the learner of an L2.
Corder (1971) later suggested error analysis should include not just ‘overt’
but also ‘covert’ errors
i.e. language which is well formed but semantically or stylistically
“I want to know the English”
“The thief is very lucky”