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Why Error Modification Is Necessary - Essay

Correction is essential. The discussion that students just need to use the language and the others will come by itself seems rather weakened. Students come to us to teach them. If indeed they want only dialogue, they'll probably notify us - or, they could just go to a chat room on the web. Obviously students have to be corrected as part of the learning experience. However, students also have to be encouraged to use the language. It really is true that correcting students while they are trying their best to work with the language could discourage them. One of the most satisfactory solution of most is make correction an activity. Correction can be utilized as a follow-up to any given class activity. However, correction sessions can be used as a valid activity in and of themselves. Quite simply, teachers can create an activity during which each blunder (or a particular type of mistake) will be corrected. Students know that the activity is going to focus on modification, and allow that truth. However, these activities should be held in balance with other, more free-form, activities which give students the opportunity to express themselves without having to fret about being corrected almost every other word.

It is to S. P. Corder that Error Research owes its place as a medical method in linguistics. As Rod Ellis cites (p. 48), "it had not been until the 1970s that EA became a recognized part of applied linguistics, a development that owed much to the work of Corder". Before Corder, linguists seen learners' mistakes, divided them into categories, tried out to see which ones were common and that have been not, however, not much attention was attracted to their role in second dialect acquisition. It was Corder who exhibited to whom information about mistakes would be helpful (teachers, analysts, and students) and exactly how.

There a wide range of major concepts launched by S. P. Corder in his article "The significance of learners' errors", among which we encounter the following:

1) It's the learner who establishes what the suggestions is. The teacher can present a linguistic form, but this isn't necessarily the insight, but simply precisely what is open to be discovered.

2) Keeping the above point in mind, learners' needs should be considered when teachers/linguists plan their syllabuses. Before Corder's work, syllabuses were predicated on theories and not a lot on learners' needs.

3) Mager (1962) highlights that the learners' built-in syllabus is more efficient than the teacher's syllabus. Corder adds that if such a built-in syllabus prevails, then learners' problems would validate its presence and would be systematic.

4) Corder released the difference between systematic and non-systematic errors. Unsystematic errors happen in one's native language; Corder telephone calls these "flaws" and states they are not significant to the process of terminology learning. He continues the word "errors" for the systematic ones, which occur in another language.

5) Mistakes are significant in 3 ways:

- to the instructor: they show a student's progress

- to the researcher: they show how a language is purchased, what strategies the learner uses.

- to the learner: they can learn from these errors.

6) Whenever a learner has made an error, the most efficient way to teach him the correct form is not simply by presenting it to him, but by permitting him discover it and test different hypotheses. (That is produced from Carroll's proposal (Carroll 1955, cited in Corder), who recommended that the learner should find the correct linguistic form by looking for it.

7) Many errors are due compared to that the learner uses set ups from his local language. Corder cases that possession of your respective native vocabulary is facilitative. Mistakes in cases like this aren't inhibitory, but rather proof one's learning strategies.

The above insights enjoyed a significant role in linguistic research, and in particular in the strategy linguists took towards mistakes. Here are some of the areas that were influenced by Corder's work:


Corder presented the variation between problems (in competence) and mistakes (in performance). This difference directed the attention of experts of SLA to competence mistakes and provided for a more concentrated construction. Thus, in the 1970s experts started examining learners' competence mistakes and tried out to explain them. We find studies such as Richards's "A non-contrastive approach to error research" (1971), where he identifies resources of competence mistakes; L1 transfer leads to interference errors; incorrect (imperfect or over-generalized) program of language guidelines leads to intralingual errors; engineering of faulty hypotheses in L2 results in developmental errors.

Not all experts have agreed with the above mentioned difference, such as Dulay and Burt (1974) who suggested the following three types of problems: developmental, disturbance and unique. Stenson (1974) proposed another category, that of induced problems, which derive from incorrect teaching of the language.

As most research methods, mistake research has weaknesses (such as with technique), but these do not reduce its importance in SLA research; this is why linguists such as Taylor (1986) reminded experts of its importance and suggested ways to defeat these weaknesses.

As mentioned previously, Corder noted to whom (or where areas) the study of problems would be significant: to professors, to researchers and to learners. Furthermore to studies focusing on error categorization and examination, various studies concentrated on these three different areas. In other words, research was conducted not only to be able to understand problems by itself, but also to be able to use what is learned from error analysis and use it to improve terms competence.

Such studies include Kroll and Schafer's "Error-Analysis and the Coaching of Composition", where the authors demonstrate how error examination may be used to improve writing skills. They analyze possible resources of error in non-native-English writers, and try to provide a process method of writing where in fact the error evaluation can help achieve better writing skills.

These studies, among many others, show that thanks to Corder's work, experts recognized the importance of mistakes in SLA and started to examine them to be able to achieve a better knowledge of SLA techniques, i. e. of how learners acquire an L2.


Various research workers have focused on those errors which display the influence of one's native words to second words acquisition. Before Corder's work, disturbance errors were thought to be inhibitory; it was Corder who remarked that they can be facilitative and provide information about one's learning strategies (point 7, in the above list). Claude HagЁge (1999) is a supporter of the idea and he mentions it in his publication "The kid between two languages", dedicated to children's terminology education. Matching to HagЁge, disturbance between L1 and L2 is seen in children as well as in parents. In individuals it is more obvious and increases regularly, as a monolingual person ages and the structures of his first terms get more robust and impose themselves more and more on another language the adult needs to learn. On the other hand, as regards children, interference features will not become long lasting unless the child does not have sufficient contact with L2. When there is sufficient coverage, then instead of reaching a point where they can no longer be corrected (normally happens with phonetics features), disturbance features can be easily eradicated. HagЁge stresses that there is no reason behind worry if interference persists more than expected. The teacher should know a child that is along the way of acquiring a second language will subconsciously invent buildings affected by knowledge he already owns. These hypotheses he forms may constitute errors. These errors, though, are completely natural; we ought to not expect the kid to obtain L2 buildings immediately (p. 81).

In addition to studies of L1 transfer in general, there were numerous studies for specific words pairs. Thanh Ha Nguyen (1995) conducted a research study to show first language copy in Vietnamese learners of British. He examined a particular language form, particularly oral competence in British past tense making. He attempted to determine the role of L1 copy in the acquisition of the British linguistic feature as a function old, time of exposure to English, and place and reason for learning British.

The affect of L1 on L2 was also evaluated by Lakkis and Malak (2000) who concentrated on the copy of Arabic prepositional knowledge to British (by Arab students). Both negative and positive transfer were analyzed to be able to help instructors identify problematic areas for Arab students and help them understand where transfer should be encouraged or avoided. Specifically, they concluded that "an instructor of British, whose native dialect is Arabic, can use the students' L1 for constructions that use equivalent prepositions in both dialects. On the other hand, when there are verbs or expressions in the L1 and L2 that contain different constructions, that take prepositions, or that contain no equivalent in one of the languages, trainers should explain these differences with their students".

Not only was L1 effect examined according to language set, but according to the type of conversation produced (written vs. dental). HagЁge (p. 33) talks about the affect of L1 on accent; he notes that the ear works like a filtration system, and after a critical time (which HagЁge claims is 11 years), it only allows sounds that participate in one's native dialect. HagЁge talks about L1 transfer in order to convince viewers that there is indeed a critical age for terminology acquisition, and specifically the acquisition of a native-like accent. He uses the example of the French words, which includes complex vowel sounds, to demonstrate that after a crucial years, the acquisition of these sounds is extremely hard; thus, learners of any foreign language is only going to use the noises existing in their native words when producing L2 may seem, which may often obstruct communication.


Corder elaborated on Carroll's work to show that the most efficient way to instruct a student the correct linguistic form is to let him test various hypotheses and eventually find the right form (point 6, listed above). In these steps, HagЁge points out the importance of self correction (p. 82-83). Corresponding to HagЁge, it pays to to always perform an error analysis based on written tests implemented by the tutor, but without informing the pupil of the purpose of the test. On that basis, self-correction surpasses modification by the educator, especially if the latter is performed in a severe or intimidating way. Self applied modification is even better when it is done by making use of children's classmates. According to teachers, younger the children, the higher the cooperation among them and the less ambitious or intimidating the corrections. HagЁge dedicates a section in his book to the value of treating problems in an optimistic way. In this particular section, titled "The teacher as a good listener", he notes that it is ineffective, if not dangerous, to treat problems as if they were "diseases or pathological situations which must be eliminated", especially if this treatment becomes discouraging, as occurs when professors lose their fortitude because of children's numerous problems. This, of course, does not imply that corrections should be avoided; after all it's the teacher's duty to teach the guidelines of the L2. But the correction of each error when it occurs is not suggested. The justification that HagЁge offers is the next: the linguistic note that the kid tries to produce is a series of elements which are interdependent; immediate corrections which interrupt this communication tend to produce negative outcomes, even to the less delicate children; such implications include anxiety, concern with making an error, the introduction of avoidance strategies, reduced motivation for contribution in the class room, insufficient interest for learning, reduced will for self applied correction, and insufficient trust to the professor. Esser (1984, cited in HagЁge) also made an identical point: repetitive and immediate corrections, he noted, may cause sensitive children to develop aggressive behavior towards their classmates or educator. Thus, HagЁge concludes, correction must not be applied by the educator unless mistakes obstruct communication. That is the key criterion for error correction (i. e. blockage of communication) presented by HagЁge; however there were studies which examined such conditions in more detail, such as Freiermuth's "L2 Mistake Correction: Requirements and Techniques" (1997). Freiermuth accepts Corder's view (point 6) and proposes criteria for error correction in the school room. These conditions are: publicity, seriousness, and students' needs.

In the truth of coverage, Freiermuth claims that when a kid creates dialect (for example, when he tries to express a concept by using a linguistic form he has not yet acquired), he will most likely make errors; fixing these problems will be inadequate because the learner is not aware of them. Thus, error modification would cause the acquisition of the right form only if the learner has been previously exposed to that particular vocabulary form.

As regards the seriousness criterion, Freiermuth cases that the educator must determine the gravity of an error before making a decision whether he should perfect it or not. Here Freiermuth places a criterion which agrees with that of HagЁge's: "the problem, he states, must impede communication before it ought to be considered an error that necessitates correction". But what takes its serious error? Which errors are those which shouldn't be corrected? As an types of non-serious problems, Freiermuth mentions those problems which occur scheduled to learners' nervousness in the school room, because of their stress or the pressure of having to produce effectively a linguistic form in the L2. These mistakes can occur despite having familiar structures; if so, they aren't of serious dynamics and act like what Corder called "mistakes". Here again we see Corder's affect in error examination, and in particular in the differentiation between problems and problems. Freiermuth continues on to suggest a hierarchy of errors (regarding to seriousness) to help professors decide which mistakes should be corrected: "Errors that significantly impair communication [are] at the top of the list, accompanied by errors that take place frequently, mistakes that reflect misunderstanding or imperfect acquisition of the existing classroom target, and errors that have an extremely stigmatizing effect on the listeners". He also clarifies what can cause stigmatization: serious pronunciation mistakes, or errors of familiar forms.

Another important criterion that must be considered by the professor is individual students' needs. The importance of this factor is described in Corder, who subsequently notes that idea had been suggested recently by Carroll (1955, cited in Corder 1967) and Ferguson (1966, cited in Corder 1967). Each university student is different and thus may react diversely to error modification. We infer from Freiermuth's claim that the educator must perform two main jobs: first, examine some specific figure characteristics of students, such as self-confidence and dialect acquisition potential. Freiermuth agrees with Walz (1982, cited in Freiermuth) that self-confident, ready students can benefit from even minor corrections, while battling students should get correction only on major problems. This claim agrees with Esser and HagЁge's declare that repetitive corrections are likely to decrease determination; it is reasonable to accept that students who lack self-confidence will be "stigmatized" to a larger degree than confident students.

The teacher's second process, according to Freiermuth, is to hear learners' L2 utterances in order to find out where errors arise (i. e. which linguistic varieties cause students difficulties), their rate of recurrence, and their gravity (based on the severity criteria mentioned previously). Then your teacher can incorporate the outcome of these tasks and choose correction approaches for individual students.

A different approach to error correction was recommended by Porte (1993), who stressed the importance of self-correction. Porte refers to Corder's distinction of problems and flaws and highlights that many students do not know the difference. It is important, Porte records, that students learn how to identify an error to avoid it in the foreseeable future. She agrees with Corder that it's better for learners to correct themselves than be corrected by the teacher, and continues on to suggest a four-step way for self-correction. This approach contains questions that the tutor provides to students. After writing an article, students should read it four times, every time looking to answer the questions contained in each one of the four steps. Thus, in each re-reading activity (each step) they focus on a different aspect of their article. In simple, the first process asks those to identify the verbs and check the tenses; in the next task students concentrate on prepositions; the 3rd task requires these to concentrate on nouns (spelling, agreement between subject and verb); finally in the fourth task students should make an effort to right potential personal blunders. Porte also offers some clarification of what is recommended by personal mistakes, to be able to help the students identify them.

The studies mentioned above are just a few samples that demonstrate how S. Pit Corder's work inspired the region of error examination in linguistics. The ideas that Corder launched directed researcher's focus on specific areas of error research; they helped linguists recognize that although problems sometimes obstruct communication, they could facilitate second language acquisition; also they played a significant role in training educators and assisting them identify and classify students' mistakes, as well as assisting them construct correction techniques.

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