College of Arts and Sciences

As individuals use language, they code ideas (semantics); that is they use a symbol – a sound, a word and so forth – to stand for an event, object or ...

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Error Analysis of LSU Students’ Written Composition Marylene N. Tizon College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract This study using quantitative analysis method aimed at identifying, categorizing and analyzing the global and local errors in the written compositions of the 236 English 2 students representing the seven colleges and one school of La Salle University. It was found out that SHM got highest in both global and local errors while CAS and COE had the lowest global errors and the least local errors went to CAS only. It is then conducted that all students from the different colleges and school of LSU incurred both global and local errors; this errors are independable and unanswerdable in students‘ learning.

1. Introduction ―Humans are prone not only to commit language errors themselves but also to err in their judgments of those errors committed by others‖-James, 1998 ― She scream, he scream, and then I scream !‖ omission of the third person singular ― s ― is an error that drives all ESL /EFL teachers insane, along with all those other ― little ― errors we see committed repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly , whether we teach in Asia, Africa, the Americas or on another continent ― -Margaret Lopez ―It‘s the nature of being a student, after all, to be ―wrong ―as emphasized by David Denby. It is therefore, inevitable that learners make mistakes in the process of foreign language learning and they are struggling on the great need to be competent in four skills of ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 53 February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

language learning namely: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Specifically, they often make errors when they write essays in English. Thus, learner errors have been considered as indispensable for their learning a language, man‘s most powerful tool for communication. Error- making as emphasized by Robinson (1998) is a natural phenomenon in learning of all kinds. However, why students go on making the same mistakes even when such mistakes have been repeatedly pointed out to them is what is questioned by language teachers. Yet not all mistakes are the same; sometimes they seem to be deeply ingrained, but at other times students correct themselves with ease. Penman (1998) (cited in AbiSamra, 2003) emphasized: ―As we all know, we communicate orally and/or in writing."In spoken conversations with others, we make sense of the dialogue in a complex back-and-forth process of negotiation of meaning between speakers. In written texts, this back-and-forth negotiation is not possible; there is only 'one pass Ã.' The sentence is written and it is read. Because there is no possibility of negotiating meaning of written documents, the inevitable problems of misunderstandings are exacerbated". ( p. 37 ). Writing has become a difficult task and skill to develop; even native English speakers are making errors. It is a complicated process that requires strict correctness of grammar and mechanics. As observed and emphasized by Dagdag (2002) , teachers have found it extremely difficult to make the students study, as well as produce ideas and organize them into an intelligible / comprehensible piece of writing. Students do not seem to know how to study; moreover, they show signs of not being able to think 54 -----------------------------------------------------------------------February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

and write beyond the sentence. Hence, many teachers feud against teaching of writing. However, as explained by Poole (1999),‖ linguists place emphasis in spoken language. The reasons for this emphasis include the fact that we acquire speech naturally while we have to be taught how to read and write, the fact that we generally speak more than we read and write, and the fact that writing developed as an adjunct to speech; some societies have no writing system and no society has developed a written language and only consequently decided to transmit the utterances orally‖. (p. 23) Nevertheless, language has played an important part in the development of the society. The society requires communication to be made across space and time. Societies have often had to span space and time as best they could using such means as messages and law – speakers, but they rarely offered the same potential that writing offers. Writing still thrives despite the rival means of communication in the modern times. Error analysis has become an interesting task for the teachers teaching writing as it helps them identify their own teaching methodologies and their students‘ ability in writing and to guide them in choosing the strategies and topics that best suit the students‘ capacity. Moreover, teachers find teaching writing really difficult as it requires a lot of effort and carefulness. Thus patience is highly required from the teachers in order to improve students‘ ability to write. Thus, researchers and teachers of foreign language came to realize that the mistakes a learner made in the process of constructing a new system of language is needed to be analyzed carefully, for they possibly held in them some of the keys to the understanding of second language acquisition. It is not a new idea that errors should be treated as a developmental problem and that ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 55 February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

instructors should exercise patience in dealing with them. ( Robinson, 1998 ) Fluency and correctness of language expression can be fully detected in a composition, which represents one‘s English ability (Hong, 2007) .The ability to write effectively in English is becoming increasingly important in the global community as communication across language becomes ever more essential. Good English writing competence is widely recognized as an important skill for educational, business and personal reasons. Writing is a complex process which demands cognitive analysis and linguistic synthesis. It is even harder to learn to write in a foreign language, and it takes considerable time and effort to become a skillful writer. English writing instruction is thus assuming an increasing role in foreign language education (Tan, 2001) Michaelides (1990) stated that the correction of all kinds of written work (composition, translation, summary) has been the problem of foreign / second teachers, particularly the inexperienced. This unpleasant state of affairs is due to partly to the alarming number of errors their students make, either through failure to learn or through careless, slipshod writing. They are unduly worried – because this is how it has always been with foreign – language learning, even with mother – tongue learning. It is the breadth and nature of the subject that make it so difficult to teach, as compared, say, with the teaching of Mathematics, Physics, and so on. He further emphasized that he has no doubt on the usefulness of students‘ errors for more realistic and effective teaching. Recently, teachers in all levels- elementary, high school and tertiary suffer the burden in correcting their students‘ compositions. Students seem to be writing without using the correct guidelines, grammar and mechanics in writing taught to them. 56 -----------------------------------------------------------------------February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

However, the errors of the students provide the teachers feedback on the usefulness of their methodologies. These feedbacks lead them to evaluate their ways of teaching and the topics they are going to reinforce. Thus, they must have the skill to carefully analyze students‘ errors for them to identify the students‘ weaknesses and strength in writing. Indeed, a great skill in analyzing errors is a tremendous advantage to both teachers and the students as it leads to better teaching and learning process. Furthermore, teachers will be guided in evaluating the effectiveness of their methodologies and strategies. They may be practically helped in determining the topics and skills that need to be enhanced among the students. It is in this light that the researcher chose to focus on LSU students‘ errors not mistakes in their written compositions. Review of Related Literature and Studies Language and the linguistic process are so complex that specialists devote their lives to investigating them. These specialists called linguists, try to determine the language rules that individual people use to communicate. The linguists deduce the rules of language from the patterns demonstrated when people communicate with one another. Moreover, language is a complex and dynamic system of conventional symbols that is used in various modes for thought and communication. It evolves within specific, historical, social and cultural contexts; language as, as rule – governed behavior, is described by at least five parameters – phonologic, morphologic, syntactic, semantic and pragmatic (Owens, 2008). As outlined by Bloom & Lahey (1978), language can be divided into three majors, although not necessarily equal components: 1) form – includes syntax, morphology, and ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 57 February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

phonology, 2 ) content – encompasses meaning or semantics and 3) use – pragmatics. These five components – syntax, morphology, phonology, semantics and pragmatics are the basic rules of systems found in language. As individuals use language, they code ideas (semantics); that is they use a symbol – a sound, a word and so forth – to stand for an event, object or relationship. To communicate these ideas to others, they use certain forms, which include the appropriate sound units (phonology), the appropriate word order (syntax), and the endings (morphology) to clarify meanings more specifically. Speakers use these components to achieve certain communication ends, such as gaining information, greeting, or responding (pragmatics). The analysis of the production of errors shows quite clearly that not all systematic errors produced by the learner can be attributed to the interference from the source language. Such errors provide evidence for a much more complex view of the learning process, in which the learner is considered as an active participant in the formation of and revision of hypotheses regarding the rules of the target language. ( Xu, 2004 ) Crystal‘s (1999) (cited in Bain, 2006) defines ―error analysis‖ in language teaching and learning, as a technique for identifying, classifying and systematically interpreting the unacceptable forms produced by someone learning a foreign language, using any of the principles and procedures provided by linguistics. Errors are assumed to reflect, in a systematic way, the level of competence achieved by a learner; they are contrasted with ―mistakes,‖ which are performance limitations that a learner would be able to correct‖ (p.125).

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According to Brown (2000) (cited in Hen Dan, 2007), a ―mistake‖ refers to a performance error in that it is a failure to utilize a known system correctly. While an ―error‖ is a noticeable deviation from the adult grammar of a native speaker, reflecting the inter-language competence of the learner. In addition, Mohamed Ali uses the term "error" to refer to a systematic deviation from a selected norm (after Burt et al. 1982) or set of norms. Error Analysis (hereafter EA) is the examination of those errors committed by students in both the spoken and written medium. Corder: (1974; 125), who has contributed enormously to EA, writes thus: "The study of error is part of the investigation of the process of language learning. In this respect it resembles methodologically the study of the acquisition of the mother tongue. It provides us with a picture of the linguistic development of a learner and may give us indications as to the learning process." (p.125) Hence the researchers were led to study on the inevitable existence of language and to find out the natural steps for learning. Only if the teacher is aware of them and able to make use of them in the teaching process appropriately that findings of error analysis function as facilitator in language teaching in many ways ( Erdogan: 2005 ) Xu (2004) stated that trained and sophisticated language teachers have undoubtedly applied EA to one degree or another for decades since EA came into being,. They have studied their students‘ recurring mistakes, classified them into categories, and used them as the basis for preparing lessons and materials designed to remediate such errors.

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The study of errors would be significant: to teachers, to researchers and to learners. In addition to studies concentrating on error categorization and analysis, various studies concentrated on these three different areas. In other words, research was conducted not only in order to understand errors per se, but also in order to use what is learned from error analysis and apply it to improve language competence. There are some previous studies on Error Analysis based on learners' written work. Such studies include Kroll and Schafer's "Error-Analysis and the Teaching of Composition", where the authors demonstrate how error analysis can be used to improve writing skills. They analyzed possible sources of error in nonnative-English writers, and attempted to provide a process approach to writing where the error analysis can help achieve better writing skills. These studies, among many other researchers recognized the importance of errors in SLA and started to examine them in order to achieve a better understanding of SLA processes, i.e. of how learners acquire an L2. Another set of researchers as cited by AbiSamra (2003) also pointed out some significant results – these are: Harris (1981) who analyzed sentence fragments found in student papers according to a scheme defining different categories of fragments: broken sentences and minor sentences. He also focused on a particular kind of minor sentence: the fragmented free modifier ; thus, he further suggested strategies for dealing with these errors; on the other hand, Kim‘s (1988) investigation of errors in English verbs with reference to tense, mood, and voice was conducted. He made use of the 120 subjects from the 11th grade Korean EFL learners who were asked to translate 42 Korean sentences into English. His study revealed that errors in mood were most frequent (903), followed by errors in voice (885) and tense (720), among the total of 2508 errors.

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Connors and Lunsford (1988) presented their analysis of 3000 marked essays in order to discover the most common patterns of student errors and which errors are marked most consistently by American instructors. He highlighted major findings which include the observation that teachers disagree on what constitutes a markable error, and tend to mark errors related to how serious or annoying the error is perceived for both student and teacher, although the difficulty in explaining the nature of the error also factors into the process. Juozulynas (1991) pointed that in the 360 pages analyzed a total of 2199 errors in syntax, 1881 errors in inflectional morphology, 1537 errors in semantics, 1130 errors in spelling, and 954 errors in punctuation were found. Overall, excluding semantic and punctuation errors, 17.2% of the errors were global (i.e., affected the entire sentence), while 82.8% were local (i.e., affected only one word). In conclusion, Juozulynas ‗analysis of the Miami corpus showed that 80% of errors in the essays of the second-year students of German can in principle be recognized by a syntactic parsing program; the remaining 20% are semantic. In contrast to at least one other study (Rogers: 1984), semantic errors made up a small portion (20%) of the total. After adjusting Roger's classification (op. cit., 27) by assigning her categories ―lexical errors‖ and ―complete transfer of English expression‖ as well as some types of syntactic and morphological errors (e.g., pronoun reference, word formation, etc.) to the semantic category used in the classification, it becomes obvious that at least about 30% of errors in Rogers' study are of semantic origin. In addition, Eun-pyo‘s (2003) study on ― Error Analysis on Medical Students‘ Writing‖ was aimed to identify and classify errors by analyzing twenty five sophomore medical students' writing, especially their formal and informal letters. It was revealed that approximately one fourth of errors (26%) of these subjects ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 61 February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

resulted from L1 transfer. Other major errors involved in wrong words (16%), prepositions (15%) and articles (14%). Klinger (2003) surveyed 3,000 professors (300 in English, 2,700 in other departments) to see how they would grade a hypothetical student essay. He found that most professors caught the same mechanical errors and also had similar responses to organization, logic, word choice, and style problems. He concluded that professors outside English do care about English usage and that they have similar attitudes toward writing problems. Moreover, he reiterated that these findings may allow English departments to cooperate with other departments in teaching writing. Writing instructors assume that they share a common knowledge with respect to various types of student errors. Wall and Hull (1989), however, conducted a study using 55 English teachers, including elementary, secondary, and university teachers. The results indicated that teachers do not share a common assumption of what constitutes error. In his study, AbiSamra (2003) collected a sample of written work from 10 grade 9 students and he found 214 total number of errors in the 10 essays studied and these are divided according to the different categories: 29 grammatical, 35 syntactic, 26 lexical, 3 semantic, and 120 substance (mechanics & spelling) errors. Chan (2004) investigated writing errors made by 710 Hong Kong Chinese ESL learners at different proficiency levels with the focus on 5 error types, namely: (a) lack of control of the copula (b) incorrect placement of adverbs (c) inability to use the there be structure for expressing the existential or presentative function (d) failure to use the relative clause and (e) confusion in verb transitivity. The results showed confirmatory evidence for syntactic transfer from Chinese to English with regard to the five syntactic patterns selected for experimentation, and the extent of syntactic 62 -----------------------------------------------------------------------February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

transfer was particularly large for complex target structures and among learners of a lower proficiency level. Another study of Papp (2004) analyzed a 200,000-word corpus of Chinese ESL university students‘ written production and found the article system and ‗number marking on nouns‘ very problematic for the students. It was further shown that articles (a ,an, and the ) are very problematic for Chinese learners of English and are used extremely frequently in writing. As cited by Chuang (2005), Ferris (1995, 1999, 2002) concluded that making typical ESL errors may stigmatize students and negatively affect the grading of their work. In his study, Chuang (2005) identified a total of 5232 errors and an examination of all the errors showed that the foundation students‘ formal errors fell into broad categories. The top ten broad categories were determiners (23.7%), nouns (15.3%), verbs (7.6%), grammatical prepositions (6.9%), lexical misconceptions (5.8%), punctuation (5.1%), sentence parts (4.1%), tenses and aspects (3.8%), modals (3.5%) and lexical-grammatical prepositions and syntactic complementation of a word (3.3%). A further examination showed that the top ten most frequent error features and their frequencies (% out of all errors) were: (1) Missing definite article 10.1% (2) Bare singular count noun for plural 8.8% (3) Redundant definite article 8.5% (4) Misselection of preposition 6.1% (5) Lexical misconception 5.8% (6) Wrong tense and aspect 3.8% (7) S-V nonagreement 2.4% (8) Wrong collocation 2.1% (9) Missing ‗a‘/‘an‘ 2.0% (10) Comma splice 2.0%. Huang (2006) presented an analysis of 34 Taiwanese English majors‘ writing errors based on a web-based writing program, which included error categories of grammar, mechanics, style, and usage. He also showed the distribution of errors which were usage (55%), mechanics (20%), style (16%) and grammar ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 63 February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

(9%). As a conclusion, he stressed that most of EFL students‘ writing errors were not due to insufficient command of linguistic complexity. On the contrary, they made a big portion of basic errors such as the subject-verb agreement or incomplete sentences. In addition, the study reported the major causes of EFL learners‘ errors which were overgeneralization, ignorance of rule restrictions, simplification, incomplete application of rules and L1 transfer. Tan (1997) sought to explore the major writing difficulties of the 95 second year non-English majors of Kun Shan University by analyzing the nature and distribution of their writing errors. The error analysis revealed a total of 323 common errors which were examined and categorized into 13 error types. Errors related with lexical knowledge (word choice, spelling, parts of speech) accounted for 25.7%; those related with sentence structure (missing subject, missing object, missing verb and word order) accounted for 28.2%. Other grammatical errors (verb form, verb tense, passive voice, preposition, article, subject-verb agreement) accounted for 46.1%. In addition, Tan (1997) cited studies of Error Analysis which examined error types of 160 compositions written by senior high school students in Taiwan. Simple sentences were written mainly by the low proficient group . As far as global errors were concerned, conjunctions, run-on sentences and subjects-objectscomplements were the three most commonly made errors. In addition, the investigation of learning strategies showed that language transfer accounted for 70.58% of all the errors In the study of Kato (2006), the total number of errors was 1518 (596 in 46 first year essays, 491 in 58 second year essays, and 431 in 44 third year essay). The average number of errors per student was 13.5 for the first year students, 11.2 for the second year students, and 9.8 for the third year students. As a total, syntactic errors dominated the rest at 29%, followed by lexical errors (21%), morphological errors in nouns and mechanical errors (18%), and 64 -----------------------------------------------------------------------February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

morphological errors (14%). According to the school year, the most common errors observed in first year essays were lexical errors, which comprised 24% of the total, while syntactic errors comprised most errors in second and third year essays, which amounted to 35.2% and 31.1% respectively. Among the first years‘ lexical errors, ―word choice‖ was the most common mistake (93 in total). As for second year and third year samples, as many as 158 and 121 errors were made respectively in ―sentence structure.‖ Theoretical Background As stressed by AbiSamra (2003), error analysis is a type of linguistic analysis that focuses on the errors learners make. It consists of a comparison between the errors made in the Target Language (TL) and that TL itself. Pit Corder is the ―Father‖ of Error Analysis (the EA with the ―new look‖). It was with his article entitled ―The significance of Learner Errors‖ (1967) that EA took a new turn. Errors used to be ―flaws‖ that needed to be eradicated. Corder presented a completely different point of view. He contended that those errors are ―important in and of themselves.‖ For learners themselves, errors are 'indispensable,' since the making of errors can be regarded as a device the learner uses in order to learn. In 1994, Gass & Selinker defined errors as ―red flags‖ that provide evidence of the learner‘s knowledge of the second language. Researchers are interested in errors because they are believed to contain valuable information on the strategies that people use to acquire a language (Richards, 1974; Taylor, 1975; Dulay and Burt, 1974). Moreover, according to Richards and Sampson (1974, p. 15), ―At the level of pragmatic classroom experience, error analysis will continue to provide one means by which the teacher assesses learning and teaching and determines priorities for future effort.‖

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This study is anchored on Corder (1974) two objects of error analysis: one theoretical and another applied. The theoretical object serves to ―elucidate what and how a learner learns when he studies a second language.‖ And the applied object serves to enable the learner ―to learn more efficiently by exploiting our knowledge of his dialect for pedagogical purposes.‖ The investigation of errors can be at the same time diagnostic and prognostic. It is diagnostic because it can tell us the learner's state of the language at a given point during the learning process and prognostic because it can tell course organizers to reorient language learning materials on the basis of the learners' current problems. An error may vary in magnitude. It can include a phoneme, a morpheme, a word, a sentence or even a paragraph. Due to this fact, this study viewed errors as being either global or local advocated by Brown (2000). Global errors hinder communication and they affect the structure of the entire sentence, such as a missing essential part of the sentence subject or verb. They prevent the message from being comprehended. On the other hand, local errors do not prevent the message from being understood because there is usually a minor violation of one segment of a sentence that allows the hearer to guess the intended meaning and they are those which affect only the constituents in which they appear. Categorization of problem areas is straightforward. In order to have a thorough identification, categorization and analysis of the errors committed by LSU English 2 students, the Common ESL Writing Errors based on Ferris‘ (2005) Model was used. Below is the categorization of errors. I. Global Errors A. Morphological Errors Verbs: Tense, From, Subject-verb agreement 66 -----------------------------------------------------------------------February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

Nouns: Articles/determiners, Noun endings (plural/possessive) B. Syntactic Errors Sentence structure, Run-ons, Fragments

II. Local Errors A. Lexical Errors (local errors) Word choice, Word form, Informal usage, Idiom error, Pronoun error B. Mechanical (local errors) Punctuation, Spelling, Capitalization* Statement of the Problem This study aimed to identify, describe, categorize, and analyze the errors of LSU students‘ written composition. Specifically, the study sought to answer the following questions: 1. What is the profile of the respondents‘ local errors by college in terms of : a. lexical errors b. mechanical errors 2. What is the profile of the respondents‘ global errors by college in terms of : a. morphological errors b. syntactic errors 3. Is there a significant difference between the respondents‘ local and global errors? Null Hypothesis ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 67 February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

There is no significant difference between the respondents‘ local and global errors?

Significance of the Study Errors were no longer seen as deviations to be eliminated, but were used as data for analysis. They were seen to provide important information about the progress, or language system, of the learner. As such this study will specifically benefit the following: 1.

The results of this study may convince the administrators to support any proposed programs to help enhance the students‘ skills in writing and to give the teachers more opportunities to attend seminars and trainings to better upgrade their competencies in teaching writing.


Error analysis enables teachers to get an overall knowledge about the students‘ errors, to obtain information on common difficulties in language learning as an aid to teaching or in development of teaching materials, to carry on their studies in accordance with what the learner needs to know and what part of the teaching strategy to change or reconstruct, to devise appropriate materials and effective teaching techniques, and to construct tests suitable for different levels and needs of learners‘

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The language teachers can be better able to develop curriculum and select materials that can facilitate L2 learning processes and also it plays an important role in training teachers and helping them identify and classify students' errors, as well as helping them construct correction techniques Errors are significant data for syllabus designers and curriculum planners as they decide what items are important to be included or which items need to be recycled in the syllabus and what remedial materials/ programs can be constructed that are significant to the needs of the students and that can enhance their communicative abilities especially in writing.


Learners‘ errors can help them identify their linguistic difficulties and needs at a particular stage of language learning so that they can avoid different kinds of errors in writing and they can look for appropriate remedy, which will resolve their problems and allow them to discover the relevant rules for greater improvement.


The errors enable the other language researchers to gain new evidence to understand how language is learned and acquired, what strategies the learners use, and what is the nature of second language learning among students on the basis of which they can conduct further research for the formulation and establishment of a sounder theory of foreign/ second language learning.

Scope and Limitation ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 69 February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

This study was confined only at identifying, categorizing and analyzing the errors in the written composition of English 2 students of La Salle University, Ozamiz City. The respondents chosen for this study were the 236 English 2 students of La Salle University. The total number of respondents represented the seven colleges and one school as follow: 14 respondents from the College of Engineering (COE ) ; 32 from the College of Nursing (CON ) ; 31 from the College of Education ( CED ) ; 44 from the College of Business and Economics ( CBE ) ; 32 from the College of Accountancy (COA ) ; 19 from the College of Computer Studies (CCS ) and 14 from the College of Arts and Sciences( CAS ); 50 from the School of Hospitality Management (CHM ) ; . During their English 2 classes on December 18 & 19, 2008, the respondents were asked to write a three - paragraph composition on the topic ― What Does Christmas Really Mean? ―. It took them 30 – 40 minutes to write their composition. The study focused on the analysis of the students‘ written composition. The errors were identified and categorized into two: local errors and global errors. The errors were analyzed further using the Description of major error categories designed by (Ferris, 2005). Verb errors All errors in verb tense or form, including relevant subject verb agreement errors. Noun ending Plural or progressive ending incorrect, omitted, or errors unnecessary; includes relevant subject-verb agreement errors Article errors Article or other determiner incorrect, omitted, or 70 -----------------------------------------------------------------------February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

Word wrong

Sentence structure

unnecessary All specific lexical errors in word choice or word form, including preposition and pronoun errors. Spelling errors only included if the (apparent) misspelling resulted in an actual English word. Errors in sentence/clause boundaries (run-ons, fragments, comma splices), word order, omitted words or phrases, unnecessary words or phrases; other unidiomatic sentence construction.

1. Methodology This chapter deals with the research methodology of the study which includes the research method used, the respondents of the study, sampling technique, the materials used, data collection technique and statistical treatment used in this study. Research Design This study made use of quantitative analysis method as it required a thorough, careful and exhaustive analysis in identifying and categorizing the errors in the written composition of LSU English 2 students enrolled during the second semester of school year 2008 – 2009. The Purpose Fluency and correctness of one‘s language expression can be fully detected in a composition, which represents one‘s English ability. Therefore, in order to detect and describe partial knowledge of English that English 2 students of La Salle University have, this ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 71 February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

study sought to identify, categorize, and analyze the different errors of the students‘ written composition. The Respondents The respondents chosen for this study were the 236 English 2 students of La Salle University. The total number of respondents represented the seven colleges and one school as follow: 14 respondents from the College of Engineering; 32 from the College of Nursing; 31 from the College of Education; 44 from the College of Business and Economics; 32 from the College of Accountancy; 19 from the College of Computer Studies and 14 from the College of Arts and Sciences; 50 from the School of Hospitality Management. The Data Gathering Materials The data analyzed for this study were the errors in students‘ written composition. During their English 2 (Writing in the Discipline) classes, the respondents were asked to write a composition about the topic, ―What Does Christmas Really Mean? ― The topic was timely because they were asked to compose a week before Christmas (December 18 -19, 2008).The compositions were completed during the second semester of 2008 – 2009. The errors in the composition were individually identified and categorized based on Ferris‘ (2005) Analysis Model as cited by Kato (2006) . The ―Common ESL writing errors‖ fall into four categories; morphological errors, lexical errors, syntactic errors, and mechanical errors. This model is based upon the ―Description of the major error categories‖ , which covers verb errors, noun ending errors, article errors, word wrong, and sentence structure (p.92). According to James (1998) (cited in Kato, 2006) , an error analysis model must be ―well-developed, highly elaborated, and 72 -----------------------------------------------------------------------February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

self-explanatory‖ (p.95). Ferris‘ model fulfills these needs. With this system, it is easy to identify global and local errors (Burt and Kiparsky, 1972, cited in James, 1998; Kato (2006) which were added to Ferris‘ model of major errors. Global errors are major errors in sentence structure, which makes a sentence difficult or impossible to understand, whereas local errors are minor mistakes, which do not cause problems of comprehension. In Ferris‘ classification, morphological and syntactic errors are considered global errors. Mechanical and lexical mistakes, on the other hand, are local errors. Research Procedure All errors were marked and classified. They were first classified into global errors or local errors. The verb-related errors were considered as ―verb errors‖, therefore, they were considered morphological errors. However, confusion in the use of transitive/intransitive verbs was considered a global syntactic error because it affects the whole sentence structure. Also, tense errors were anticipated. As long as the errors did not interfere with the understanding of the sentence, they were put into tense errors, i.e., morphological errors. It was sometimes difficult to draw the line between lexical errors and mechanical errors; that is, whether the word is a wrong choice or simply a spelling mistake. If the word had a separate meaning but exists as a word, then it was treated as lexical error; otherwise, it was marked as a mechanical error. However, if an inappropriate word choice disrupts the meaning in the whole sentence, it was considered a syntactic error. In short, the decision of error classification depends on each sentence. As for repeated mechanical errors in the same sentence, i.e., spelling mistakes, punctuation, and capitalization, the multiple mistakes were counted as one. The Statistical Treatment ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 73 February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

Stratified Random Sampling using Slovin‘s Formula was used to get the sample size of the study. Frequency and Percentage distribution were used to categorize the errors of the respondents‘ written composition. The Paired Sample T-test was used to determine the significant difference between the respondents‘ local and global errors.

2. Results and Discussion This chapter deals with the percentage analysis and interpretation of the gathered data. The data found in this chapter are arranged according to specific problems treated in this study. Problem No. 1: What is the profile of the respondents‘ local errors by college in terms of: a. lexical errors b. mechanical errors COLLEGE / SCHOOL CBE COA CON CAS CED COE CCS SHM

Table 1: Respondents‘ local errors by college LEXICAL ERRORS MECHANINCAL ERRORS Frequency Percentage Frequency Percentage 107 18 77 22 60 10 24 7 59 10 40 11 33 5 15 4 93 15 62 17 42 7 14 4 67 11 24 7 147 24 100 28

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As evidently shown in Table 1, SHM incurred the greatest lexical errors with 24% while CAS got the lowest of 5%. These lexical errors could be traced from the students‘ wrong word choice, word form and errors in pronouns and prepositions. This result in lexical errors is similar with Akande‘s (2006) study which found out that Technical College students did not have a high competence in the use of words related to their different areas of specialization as they normally made mistakes resulting from overgeneralization of rules, wrong analogy, wrong word choice and others. This finding indicates that SHM students did not have sufficient vocabulary; they don‘t have enough knowledge on the correct word form and they are inefficient in the correct use of prepositions in writing their sentences. Thus, teachers have to impart a body of knowledge, but learners have to discover that knowledge for them in order to internalize it. As to the errors in mechanical, the highest number went to SHM with 28% while the lowest percentage was committed by both CAS and COE having 4%. Errors in punctuation, capitalization and most especially spelling were very evident among the students. This implies that teachers in all year levels and colleges are faced with the all-too-clear fact that the students find correct spelling difficult. This can be reinforced by Wolff (2000) who found out that the carefully prepared essay and free informal expression of out-of-school written materials were all contain numerous lexical errors most especially in spelling which occurred repeatedly. Problem No 2: What is the profile of the respondents‘ global errors by college in terms of: a. morphological errors b. syntactic errors ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 75 February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

Table 2: The global errors in the composition of students by college. COLLEGE / MORPHOLOGICAL SYNTACTIC ERRORS SCHOOL ERRORS Frequency Percentage Frequency Percentage 68 15 128 20 CBE 58 13 35 COA 5 39 9 78 12 CON 39 9 CAS 35 5 74 17 95 15 CED 63 10 COE 19 4 29 7 69 11 CCS SHM 116 26 144 22 442 100 647 100 TOTAL

As manifested in Table 2, the greatest proportion of both morphological and syntactic errors was gotten by SHM having 26% and 22% respectively; on the other hand, the least errors in morphology went to COE with 4% and both COA and CAS gathered the smallest syntactic errors with 5%. These findings in the morphological and syntactic errors are comparable to Juozulynas (1991) who discovered that the biggest problem in the students' writing seems to be syntax, especially the use of the verb with the required noun case or the use of the required case with the noun object of a preposition. Inflectional morphology with its much-feared ―endings‖ takes second place. Thus, syntax and morphology together make up 53% of the errors in the corpus. This infers that students must be given more opportunity to raise their 76 -----------------------------------------------------------------------February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

awareness and skills in making sentences and paragraphs which are connected with one another to form meaningful compositions.

Table 3: The Global and Local Errors of the Respondents by College. Local Errors Global Errors Lexical Mechanical Morphological Syntactic Errors Errors Errors Errors F % F % F % F % 107 18 77 22 68 15 128 20 CBE 60 10 24 7 58 13 35 COA 5 59 10 40 11 39 9 78 12 CON 39 9 CAS 33 5 15 4 35 5 93 15 62 17 74 17 95 15 CED 42 7 63 10 COE 14 4 19 4 67 11 24 7 29 7 69 11 CCS SHM 147 24 100 28 116 26 144 22 608 100 100 442 100 100 TOTAL 356 647 College/ School

Table 3 illustrated that SHM dominantly garnered the biggest percentages of errors in all of the four categories while CAS got the lowest in three out of four categories: lexical, mechanical and syntactic errors. As a total, syntactic errors dominated the rest for 647, followed by lexical errors with 608, morphological errors for 442 and mechanical errors 356. This result is exactly in the same order with the study of Kato (2006). This denotes that errors in writing a composition are inseparable to students‘ learning. Moreover, the LSU students are non-native speakers who are more prone to making mistakes and/or committing errors .Indeed, errors clearly tell the teachers how far towards the goal the learners have ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 77 February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

progressed and what remains for them to learn. Moreover, errors are means of feedback for the teachers reflect how effective they are in their teaching style and what changes they have to make to get higher performance from their students learning. Therefore, teachers should help students to improve their language proficiency and become more confident in their writing abilities and their linguistic accuracy at every level of proficiency. Table reflects the significant difference between the students‘ local and global errors.


Table 4: Paired Sample Test TP - Value Decision Value 1.96 0.014699 ACCEPT Hypothesis

Interpretation No Significant


c. Problem No 3: Is there a significant difference between the respondents‘ local and global errors? Hypothesis: There is no significant difference between the respondents‘ local and global errors? The Paired Sample T-test was used to find out if there is no significant difference between the students‘ local and global errors. As indicated in Table 3, the T – value is 1.96 and the P – value is 0.014699. Since the computed T- value is less than the Tabular T – value, the null hypothesis is therefore accepted. The no significant difference therefore testifies that both local and global errors are incurred by students when they are writing compositions. They commit global errors which hinder their communication and affect the structures of the entire sentences whenever they make a composition, such as a missing essential part of the sentence subject 78 -----------------------------------------------------------------------February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

or verb. Hence, the message they want to convey has been prevented from being comprehended. Moreover, they incur local errors which do not basically prevent their message from being understood because there is usually a minor violation of one segment of a sentence that allows the hearer to guess the intended meaning. Consequently, teachers must view errors as means of feedback for them reflecting how effective they are in their teaching style and what changes they have to make to get higher performance from their students.

4. Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations This chapter presents the summary, the conclusions drawn and the recommendations formulated. Summary This study made use of quantitative analysis method. It aimed to identify, categorize, and analyze the different errors of the students in their written composition. The respondents chosen for this study were the 236 English 2 students of La Salle University. The total number of respondents represented the seven colleges and one school as follow: 14 respondents from the College of Engineering; 32 from the College of Nursing; 31 from the College of Education; 44 from the College of Business and Economics; 32 from the College of Accountancy; 19 from the College of Computer Studies and 14 from the College of Arts and Sciences; 50 from the School of Hospitality Management. The data analyzed for this study were the errors in students‘ written composition. During their English 2 (Writing in the ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 79 February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

Discipline) classes, the respondents were asked to write a composition about the topic, ―What Does Christmas Really Mean? ― The topic was timely because they were asked to compose a week before Christmas (December 18 -19, 2008).The compositions were completed during the second semester of 2008 – 2009. EXCEL was used for statistical analysis and the Paired Sample T-test was used to determine the significant difference between the students‘ local and global errors. Findings The gathered data were analyzed and the following were the findings: 1. SHM got the highest in both local and global errors as revealed in their percentages of 24, 28, 26, and 22 in lexical, mechanical, morphological, and syntactic errors respectively while the lowest in global errors were CAS and COE and the least local errors went to CAS only. 2. COE encountered the least morphological errors as shown in its percentage of only 4, while CAS gathered the smallest percentage of 5 in lexical errors category. 3. For mechanical errors, the smallest percentage was exemplified by both CAS and COE with only 4% while COA and CAS both acquired the lowest proportion of syntactic errors with only 5%. 4. As a whole, syntactic errors accumulated the greatest total number of 647 while mechanical errors got the least with only 356. 80 -----------------------------------------------------------------------February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

Conclusion After having analyzed the data gathered, the researchers conclude that students from all the colleges and school of LSU incurred both local and global errors in their written composition. Students‘ errors are therefore indispensable and unavoidable in their learning; however, these errors can be very useful for more realistic and effective teaching. Among the students from the seven colleges and one school, SHM committed the greatest percentages of both local and global errors; thus, they need to actively involve themselves in remedial activities to reinforce their writing ability. Recommendations Based on the findings and conclusion, the following recommendations are presented: 1. Language teachers should give consideration on the development or reconstruction of teaching materials and effective teaching strategies/ approaches to suit the different levels and needs of the learners most especially in writing. 2. Teachers must help students raise their awareness of how to organize English writing, and how units of sentences and paragraphs are connected with one another to form meaningful text; they should provide students with ample amounts of language input and instruction, as well as writing experience and they must integrate the grammar focus while encouraging creativity and teaching organizational form. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 81 February – March 2011 Vol. 15 No. 5

3. Students must identify their difficulties and needs by recognizing the importance of coherence in their writing ; they should dedicate themselves to the ideas or message that they are trying to convey In order to write coherent, well-structured paragraphs and essays. Moreover, they should have to be creative in writing and they should concentrate on the content as well. By reflecting on their writing process, students should internalize their grammatical and lexical knowledge and utilize it for production. 4. Students must have more exposure to authentic writing that will help them expand their vocabulary and write well-organized, reasonably cohesive paragraphs / essays. They should cultivate knowledge and their writing skills by consciously listening or reading extensively outside the class , taking every opportunity to use it, developing learning strategies outside of the class, and reflecting on the writing process before, during and after they write. 5. Remedial materials/ programs that are important to the needs of the students and that can improve their communicative competence especially in writing should be designed. Thus, SHM students should be first given the priority to take part in any of these programs. 6. More studies on students‘ global and local errors must be conducted which will not only focus on grammatical and lexical accuracy but also on creativity in context and logical flow of sentences

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