An analysis of college students’ attitudes towards error correction

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English Language Teaching

Vol. 3, No. 4; December 2010

An Analysis of College Students’ Attitudes towards Error Correction in EFL Context
Honglin Zhu School of Foreign Languages, Changzhou University Changzhou 213016, Jiangsu, China Tel: 86-519-8327-5773 E-mail: zhl57921@yahoo.com.cn Abstract This article is based on a survey on the attitudes towards the errorcorrection by their teachers in the process of teaching and learning and it is intended to improve the language teachers’ understanding of the nature of error correction. Based on the analysis, the article expounds some principles and techniques that can be applied in the process of EFL teaching. Keywords: Attitudes, Mistakes and errors, EFL teaching Introduction There has always been much concern anddiscussion on errors and error correction in foreign language learning and teaching. It also has been a controversial issue because teachers’ and learners’ attitudes towards error and error correction differ depending on the teaching and learning approach they adopt. Some researches follow logically from the shift in emphasis from contrastive analysis to error analysis. Indeed, this shift haschanged the entire look to errors and it has influenced the teachers’ and the researchers’ attitudes towards errors to a very great extent. However, according to Ellis (1985), the most significant contribution of error analysis lies in its success in elevating the status of errors from undesirability to that of a guide to the inner working of the language learning process. In this sense, researchersview errors as evidence of the learner’s positive contribution to foreign language learning rather than as a sign of learner’s inability to master the new language as many teachers view it. In this article, the author will first focus on both teachers’ and students’ attitudes towards errors and error correction since these attitudes have a great impact on the entire learning process, and thensuggest some techniques for error correction. 1. The significance of making errors in EFL context It has been accepted that errors play an important role in the learning process. To language learners, language learning is not so much a question of acquiring a set of automatic habits, but rather a process of discovering the underlying rules, categories and systems of choice in the language by some sortof processing by the learner of the data of the language presented to him by the teacher (Corder, 1973). In order for this discovery to take place, learners have to go through several stages and processes. One of the most important factors included in almost all the stages and processes of language learning is error making. Dulay and Burt (1974) stated that error making is inevitable and that itwould appear necessary and crucial to language learning. In fact, it is a clear sign to show language learner actually develop and internalize the rules of the language. While the errors a learner makes provide no direct measure of his knowledge of the language, it is probably the most important source of information about the nature of his knowledge. From the analysis of the learner’s errors,teachers are able to infer the nature of his knowledge at that point in his learning and discover what he still has to learn. By describing and classifying his errors, teachers may build up a picture of the features of the language which cause him learning problems. A learner’s errors, therefore, are significant to the teacher, in that they tell him if he undertakes a systematic analysis, how fartowards the goal the learner has progressed and, consequently, what remains for him to learn (Corder, 1981). On the other hand, learner’s errors provide to researchers evidence of how language is learnt and acquired, what strategies or procedures the learner employ in his discovery of the language. In fact, errors are essential to the learner himself and it is a method the learner uses to test his...
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