the late 1960s that there was a resurgence of interest in Error Analysis. A series of articles by Corder (e.g. 1967; 1971; 1974) all traced this resurgence and helped to give it direction. Error Analysis provides two kinds of information about interlanguage. The first is concerned with the linguistic type of errors produced by L2 learners. Richards (1974), for instance, provides a list of the different types of errors involving verbs (e.g. ‘be’+ verb stem instead of verb stem alone -- ‘They are speak French’). However, this type of information is not very helpful when it comes to understanding the learner’s developmental sequence. Error Analysis must necessarily present a very incomplete picture of SLA, because it focuses on only part of the language L2 learners produce -- that part containing idiosyncratic forms. Describing interlanguage requires identifying what the learner can do by examining both idiosyncratic and non-idiosyncratic forms. Also because SLA is a continuous process of development, it is doubtful whether much insight can be gained about the route learners take from a procedure that examines language -- learner language at a single point in time. Error Analysis provides a synchronic description of learners’ errors, but this can be misleading. A sentence may appear to be non-idiosyncratic (even in context), but may have been derived by means of an "interim" rule in the interlanguage. An example might be a sentence like " What’s he doing ?" which is well formed but may have been learned as a ready-made chunk. Later, the learner might start producing sentences of the kind ‘What he is doing?’, which is overtly idiosyncratic but may represent a step along the interlanguage continuum. For those reasons an analysis of the
linguistic types of errors produced by learners does not tell us much about the sequence of development. The second type of information -- which is relevant to the question about the strategies used in interlanguage -- concerns the psycholinguistic type of errors produced by L2 learners. Here Error Analysis is on stronger ground. Although there are considerable problems about coding errors in terms of categories such as ‘developmental’ or ‘interference’, a study of errors reveals conclusively that there is no single or prime cause of errors (as claimed by the Contrastive Analysis hypothesis) and provides clues about the kinds of strategies learners employ to simplify the task of learning a L2. Richards (1974) identifies various strategies associated with developmental or, as he calls them, ‘intralingual’ errors. Overgeneralization is a device used when the items do not carry any obvious contrast for the learner. For example, the past tense marker, ‘-ed’, often carries no meaning in context, since pastness can be indicated lexically (e.g. ‘yesterday’). Ignorance of rule restrictions occurs when rules extend to contexts where in the target language usage they do not apply. This can result from analogical extension or the rote learning of rules. Incomplete application of rules involves a failure to learn the more complex types of
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- Fall '19