Error Analysis

Errors were considered to be a wrong response to the stimulus, which should be corrected immediately after they were made. Unless corrected properly, the error became a habit and a wrong behavioral pattern would stick.

If learners made any mistake while repeating words, phrases or sentences, the teacher corrected their mistakes immediately. Errors were regarded as something you should avoid and making an error was considered to be fatal to proper language learning processes.

Error Analysis: Its Roots And Development

Contrastive analysis

Two languages were systematically compared, identifying points of similarity and difference between native languages (NLs) and target languages (TLs).
"The most effective materials are those that are based upon a scientific description of the language to be learned, carefully compared with a parallel description of the native language of the learner."

The importance of contrastive analysis in language teaching material is :
  1. Individuals tend to transfer the forms and meanings and the distribution of forms and meanings of their native language and culture to the foreign and culture.
  2. Those elements that are similar to his native language will be simple for him, and those elements that are different will be difficult.
  3. Where two languages were similar, positive transfer would occur; where they were different, negative transfer, or interference, would result.

Corder: Introduction Of The Concept "Error Analysis"

Corder claims that in language teaching one noticeable effect is to shift the emphasis away from teaching towards a study of learning.

For learners themselves, errors are necessary, since the making of errors can be regarded as a device the learner uses in order to learn. Corder claims that the errors of a learner, whether adult or child, are

  • not random, but are in fact systematic.
  • not ' negative' or 'interfering' in any way with learning a TL(Target Language) but are, on the contrary, a necessary positive factor, indicative of testing hypotheses.


Errors have played an important role in the study of language acquisition in general and in examining second and foreign language acquisition in particular.

Errors are believed to be an indicator of the learners' stages in their target language development. From the errors that learners commit one can determine their level of mastery of the language system.

The discovery of errors has thus a double purpose:

  • It is DIAGNOSTIC because it can tell us the learner's at a given point during the learning process.
  • PROGNOSTIC because it can tell course organizers to reorient language learning materials on the basis of the learners' current problems.

Boundary Between Error and Non-Error

Errors deviate from what is regarded as the normه. The problem however, is that sometimes there is not firm agreement on what the norm is. Languages have different varieties or dialects with rules that differ from the standard. Native speakers of a language sometimes have different rules, and their individual codes are called IDIOLECTS. This amounts to saving that there is not always a clear-cut boundary between errors and non-errors.

The difference between native speakers and foreign language learners as regards errors is believed to derive from competence. Foreign language learners commit errors largely because of the paucity of their knowledge of the target language, as slips of the tongue or slips of the pen.

Relation Of Errors To Tasks

Control is a term introduced in second and foreign language acquisition literature to account for the discrepancy between competence and performance. That is, learners may well have acquired certain forms of the target language, but they may not be able to produce them correctly because they have not mastered their use.

Learners may have more control over linguistic forms for certain tasks, while for others they may be more prone to error. krashen's Monitor Model is suggests that tasks which require learners to focus attention on content are more likely to produce errors than those which force them to concentrate on form.

Compared to effortless speech, planned discourse allows for greater use of metalinguistic knowledge and results in fewer errors. Time seems to play determining role. Poor learners need more time to produce speech material because they have little control over their linguistic awareness.

Learners' monitor—their capacity for modifying utterances under three conditions:
  1. time.
  2. focus on form.
  3. knowledge of the rule.

Relation of errors to context

Certain linguistic environments have a facilitative effect, prompting learners to produce target-like forms, while others are debilitating, and inducing error.


There are two kinds of errors:

GLOBAL ERROR: is one which involves "the overall structure of a sentence".
Local Error: is one which affects "a particular constituent."

Examples of global and local error.
For examples:
Global error. I like take taxi but my friend said not that we should be late for
Local error. If I heard from him I will let you know.
The first sentence is the kind of sentence that would be marked by a language teacher as erroneous, and in the second sentence only heard would marked as erroneous.

Error fall into four main categories:

  1. omission of some required element
  2. addition of some unnecessary or incorrect element
  3. selection of an incorrect element.
  4. misordering of elements.


it online training said...

I ever heard about the analysis of Error even before reading this article i felt in bit of confusion but, finally this article takes me to a successful journey of Error Analysis.

I hope you may get succeed with advanced concept of Error Analysis.

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