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HBET 2103


1.00 Introduction
Malaysia is a multi-cultured and multi-raced country. We have Malays, Chinese,
Indians and Iew other minorities living harmoniously here. These ethnics living in this
country can speak at least 2 languages the minimum. It is because oI the education system
that is available here.
During the primary level, students who are in the vernacular schools are taught in
their native language whereas in the national schools, their medium oI instruction is in
Bahasa Malaysia. Students in vernacular schools that is the national-type school, it is
compulsory Ior them to learn English and Bahasa Malaysia whereas the rest oI the subjects
are taught in their native language.
AIter completing their six years in primary level, these students go on to continue
their secondary level to the national school where their medium oI instruction is Bahasa
Malaysia. Those who come Irom national type school have to go through a transition class or
'Remove Ior one year beIore going into Form One. These students will go through the
changes in the medium oI instruction and they have to master not only one language but two
which is Bahasa Malaysia, the national language and English. In the Malaysian education
policy it is a must Ior students to pass Bahasa Malaysia and since English is an international
language it is learnt as L2.
The main problem these students Iace is mastering all these languages and this
especially rampant among those who come Irom national-type oI school. Among some oI
them there are who have mastered well the language so they may not Iace problem when the
write or converse but not Ior those who are not that competent.
Along their way in mastering their language skills, these students tend to commit
errors and there are Iew reasons Ior that to happen. According to Brown (1994) and Corder
(1996) , we can group errors into two categories. The Iirst category is called the interlingual
transIer errors which is the inIluence oI the L1. Students have the tendency to think and
construct Ior example a sentence in their native language then translate direct in L2, in this
case is English. Another thing is the students do not have enough knowledge on the structure
oI L2 yet so they rely on the structure oI L1 more either in their written work or in their daily
The second category in called the intralingual and developmental errors. In this
category the possibilities errors could have been caused by insuIIicient knowledge or have
not learnt enough oI the target language, diIIiculties oI mastering the basics oI the target
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language and also the incorrect coaching or teaching and also using words which conIuses
students Ior example 'accept and 'except. As Ior developmental errors, it is believed that it
is committed during many stages oI learning the target language which actually reIlects the
students competence and how the use the target language with the limited knowledge that
they have acquired.
In order to have all these errors to be identiIied and to Iind a solution in rectiIying it
some linguists came up with what we call error correction in language learning. This is to
identiIy the common grammar error Iound in written and spoken work oI English learners.

.00 Role of Error Correction in Language Learning
As Ior the saying goes ' We learn through our mistakes. We learn our languages also
by making errors here and there beIore we master the language. In English language learning
errors can be Iound in many Iorms they may be in a phoneme, in a word, a morpheme or
other words meaning understanding, in Iorming a sentence or in a whole paragraph. Error
correction is used by mainly teachers to correct errors oI students. Everybody make mistakes
and errors during the process oI learning. It is a part oI language learning or rather anything
that we learn and it is learnt better when we make mistakes or errors.
There are 3 basic Iorm oI error correction to be Iound. The Iirst one is known as selI-
correction. SelI-correction takes place when a student themselves realize and correct their
own errors. The second one is called peer correction which is correcting their errors among
themselves. The third one is known as the teacher correction and this the most common one.
The teacher points out the students error using the appropriate error correcting strategy.
Why is error correction important and what is the role oI error correction in our
language learning? One oI the main plain reason or role is error correction helps to determine
the common errors or diIIiculties Iaced in learning. It also helps teachers to identiIy students
or learners errors to develop appropriate teaching materials and strategies Ior remedial
teaching. On the part oI a learner it helps to identiIy a proper method or strategy to enable
them to learn better.
Error correction also plays the role as a strategy to Iind out why learners make errors
and most oI it is repeated ones. Error corrections helps language learners to correct their
errors which becomes correction. When a correction is done in our language learning,
learning takes place Ior a learner which enables a learner to Iind out where they have made an
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In Malaysia many oI our students Iace the problem oI conversing in proper English.
One oI the reason is they lack oI exposure to the language and the attitude oI not wanting to
learn another language as long they can get through their exams. Due to this a lot oI error in
grammar takes place in their written work and spoken language. Their main grammar error is
in the usage like prepositions, tag questions, articles, plural Iorm oI nouns, subject verb
agreement and the highest error is on tenses. Base on this I have interviewed a Chinese young
man who works as a cook to see his level oI competence in his spoken English. The
conversation includes the demographic details oI him. The conversation has been transcribed
and is shown below.

.00 Transcription
Thilaga : Hi! My name is Thilaga and what is yours.
Ah Leong : Hi! My name Leong Hong How.
Thilaga : I would like to have a short conversation with you and I would like to
know iI it is alright with you iI I record our conversation.
Ah Leong : Ok but why wan to recod?
Thilaga : Well you see, I am studying in Open University Malaysia and this is
part oI my assignment and it is part oI the requirement to record the
Ah Leong : Wat you say the word assinmen? I donno wat word tat. Can tell wat
thing that ah?
Thilaga : Ok, do you remember during your school days Ior English, your
teacher will give a topic and then ask all the students to write an essay
and then she will say the essay must have about 100 or 150. Do you
remember that? It is something like that.
Ah Leong : Yeah, yeah ok I know now. But univesity also do like tat ah?
Thilaga : Hm! But it is more detailed. Ok! Come let`s start now. How old are
Ah Leong : My age 39 years old.
Thilaga : Are you a Chinese?
Ah Leong : Yeah, my race is Chinese.
Thilaga : What is your mother tongue and what other languages you speak?
Ah Leong : My mother tongue Cantonese and I speak Malai and a bit Ingelish.
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Thilaga : What is your highest education level? What I mean is until what level
you studied in school, college or university?
Ah Leong : I studing until Form 3 only.
Thilaga : What are the names oI your schools?
Ah Leong : My primary school at SRJK (C) Kampar and secondary school at
SMK Sg.Choh.
Thilaga : Are you working at the moment?
Ah Leong : Yeah Rice CaIe Bangsar as a cooks.
Thilaga : Are all the staIIs there Chinese or mixed races?
Ah Leong : Got Indonesian, Indian and Vietnamese people. All good people.
Thilaga : What is the language you use to communicate at your work place?
Ah Leong : I spoke Malai and Ingelish.
Thilaga : What are your hobbies?
Ah Leong : My hobi summing and waching Iooball match.
Thilaga : What do you do during your oII days?
Ah Leong : I will be go to sister`s house or looking Ior Iriends.
Thilaga : How was your Chinese New Year celebration?
Ah Leong : We gathering in mother`s house and having steamed boat on New Year
Thilaga : How did you spend your Chinese New Year Holidays?
Ah Leong : I go to vijit to relative and Iriend`s house.
Thilaga : Are you married? II not, when do you plan to do so and what kind oI
girl would you like to have as a wiIe?
Ah Leong : I am a single but will be marry soon. I would like a honestly and kindly
girl be my wiIe.
Thilaga : How many children do you want to have?
Ah Leong : One or two I wish but I wan all girl only.
Thilaga : How grand do you want your wedding to be?
Ah Leong : Haiya! I know what wedding whoh but grand I donno.
Thilaga : Ok in simple words grand means how big you want your wedding to
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Ah Leong : Wallawei. No lah madam. I just go regiter in gomen oIIice than I and
my wiIe give tea to my Iather mother then Iinish ah. Then go photo
studio take photo. Like tat enaaI redy. Now all vely expensive hoh.
Thilaga : What are your Iuture plans?
Ah Leong : I wan is doing a small buiness.
Thilaga : At what age have you planned to retire?
Ah Leong : I no think about that.
Thilaga : Once you have retired, what do you plan to do?
Ah Leong : Do what I able to do as keep my body healthy.
Thilaga : Did you enjoy talking to me?
Ah Leong : Yeah madam. Vely much sebab you talk vely soI and ezy Ingelish so
I like hoh.

.00 Common Errors and Explanation
Based on transcription above I have pointed out the errors that are Iound in the
conversation in between Ah Leong (the young Chinese cook) and me.

.10 Errors in Pronunciation
a) Sentence 1 : Ok but why wan to recod?
The correct sentence : Ok but why do you want to record?

b) Sentence 2 : Wat you say the word assinmen? I donno wat word tat. Can tell wat
thing that ah?
The correct sentence : The word you said was assignment. I don`t understand what it
means. Could you please explain?
The correct words Ior the underlined words : wat what, assinmen assignment,
donno don`t know, tat that.

c) Sentence 3 : I studing until Form 3 only.
The correct sentence : I studied until Form 3 only.

d) Sentence 4 : I wan is doing a small buiness.
The correct sentence : I want to start a small business oI my own.
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e) Sentence 5 : Yeah madam. Vely much sebab you talk vely soI and ezy Ingelish so
I like hoh.
The correct sentence : Yes madam. Very much because you are very soIt spoken and
you speak in a very simple English.

Explanation : The are 5 examples shown above under pronunciation error. The way the
words are pronounced are due to his phonetics perception. All the underlined words in the
examples above are pronounced according to his phonetic perception. This is not only limited
to spoken language but also in many individual`s written work. Individuals tend to write
according to the sound they produce. In English it is important to know where the stress
points are in the words that we use. Majority English words have at least two syllables and
one syllable will deIinitely be stronger than the other. It is believed that there is no such
syllables stress in Chinese language so they way Chinese students pronounce words is
diIIerent Irom the other. They seem to stress at the wrong point which may produce a
diIIerent sound which in return may change the meaning oI the said word.

.0 Error in Tenses
a) Sentence 1 : I studing until Form 3 only.
The correct sentence : I studied up to Form 3.

b) Sentence 2 : I spoke Malai and Ingelish.
The correct sentence : I speak Malay and English.

c) Sentence 3 : We gathering in mother`s house and having steamed boat on New Year
The correct sentence : We gathered in my mother`s house and had Steamed Boat` Ior
New Year`s Eve.

d) Sentence 4 : I no think about that.
The correct sentence : I have not thought about it yet.

e) Sentence 5 : I go to vijit to relative and Iriend`s house.
The correct sentence : I visited my Iriends and relatives.
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Explanation : There are 5 example shown under the sub topic oI error in tenses. Based on the
examples given, basically most oI the English language learners are conIused with the usage
oI tenses. It is the same Iaced by Ah Leong because when he replies to my questions he
seems to be conIused with tenses and he replies using any tenses that come to his mind at that
spur oI moment. For example reIer to Sentence 5, Ah Leong used the word visit Ior
something which had happened in the past but he could not diIIerentiate the tenses to be used
Ior the past and instead he used the present tense. The problem is because most oI them are
not able to diIIerentiate the indication oI time with present, past, Iuture and continuous
tenses. For example we take Sentence 1 I studing until Form 3 only ( studied ), it shows that
where he is supposed to use the past tense he has used the continuous tenses which indicated
his inability to diIIerentiate the indication oI time. One oI the reason is most oI them, think
and construct their sentence in their L1 and then say it out in English.

.0 Error in Subject - Verb Agreement
a) Sentence 1 : Hi! My name Leong Hong How.
The correct sentence : Hi! My name is Leong Hong How.

b) Sentence 1 : My age 39 years old.
The correct sentence : My age is 39 or I am 39 years old.

c) Sentence 1 : My hobi summing and waching Iooball match.
The correct sentence : My hobbies are swimming and watching Iootball matches.

Explanation : There are three examples given Ior error in subject verb agreement. There
are many who get conIused with verbs like is` or was` to are` or were`. This do not stop
here. Some oI them do also get conIused with the usage oI nouns, where they have to a
singular noun they tend to use plural nouns. For example in the conversation I had asked Ah
Leong iI he is working and he replied me like this 'Yeah at Rice CaIe Bangsar as a cooks.
The word cooks` is supposed to be cook` a singular noun and the word cooks` changes the
whole meaning. Since Ah Leong is Irom a Chinese school and his L1 is Chinese, there is no
and agreement between verb and subject in his L1 so that is why he Iaces problems in this.

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.0 Error in Preposition

a) Sentence 1 : Yeah Rice CaIe Bangsar as a cooks. (omission ,t)
The correct sentence : Yes at Rice caIe Bangsar as a cook.

b) Sentence 2 : My primary school at SRJK (C) Kampar and secondary school at
SMK Sg.Choh. ( used at instead oI in)
The correct sentence : I studied in SRJK (C) Kampar and SMK Sg.Choh.

c) Sentence 3 : I spoke Malai and Ingelish. (omission in)
The correct sentence : I speak in Malay and English.

Explanation : There are three samples given Ior errors in preposition. The common errors
are addition oI preposition, wrong selection oI prepositions and mainly
omissions oI prepositions. The errors take place mainly because oI the
interIerence oI Al Leong`s mother tongue. As explained earlier, he translates
his sentences Irom Chinese into English, so tend to use the prepositions as
how he uses it in his mother tongue. Another reason is a single preposition
Irom Chinese language can be used in various manner in English language.
This is one oI the reason students Irom Chinese schools like Ah Leong is
unable to Iollow the diIIerent usage oI prepositions in English.

5.00 Teaching Suggestions Based on My Findings
Learning a language is not an easy task Ior some people. It is actually the mindset oI
the person itselI. Learning becomes easier iI the learner is in a relaxed and comIortable
situation and not in a Iorced situation like most oI the students in our local schools. Most oI
our students Iail to realize that learning a language is beneIicial to them in the long run
especially English. There are many ways to teach students to learn languages. There are a Iew
suggestions as shown below.
Suggestion 1 :
It is suggested that a relaxed and comIortable environment makes learning easier with
indirectly reduces errors in language learning. This is because when in such environment
students would not Ieel tensed and pressured when they are in the learning process. When the
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environment is Iriendly students become more actively involved and are more responsive
towards their learning activities.

Suggestion :
Teachers also play a role in helping students to avoid making errors in their language
learning. The approach used by a teacher to talk to their students and using the appropriate
teaching strategy according to the student`s level also helps in reducing errors in their
language learning.

Suggestion :
SelI correction is another strategy that can be used in error correction. Here students rectiIy
their own errors and this is something teachers should encourage because students will put in
more eIIort in learning. II a student can do selI correction means they understand what they
are learning or what they have learnt so Iar and also help to build their conIidence.

Suggestion :
Peer correction is another strategy which can be used by teachers in error correction. Students
enjoy sharing work within their peers and they do not mind much iI they correct their errors
among themselves. This also increases their interaction among themselves which promotes
co-operation among them.

Suggestion 5 :
Teacher correction is one oI the oldest strategies that everyone knows. Even though teacher
correction seems to the most eIIective one, it should not be used very oIten because it blocks
the Iluency and competency oI a student. They would not put much eIIort once they know
they get what they want easily. It is best that teachers do not get involve during
conversations. There are many ways a teacher can use in handling error correction. There are
Iew stated below :-
a). Gestures
Teachers instead oI voicing out could do by using gestures or body language.
Gestures could come in the Iorm oI hand signal. For example, during a role play
session in the classroom a student perIorms well, the teacher could use thumps-up to
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say that the student has done well. By doing so, the teacher is actually promoting selI-
correction among the students.

b). Recasting
This is like how parents teach their children to talk correctly but making sure that
their Ieeling or ego is not disturbed. Recasting means the teacher says out the same
sentence said by the student but without any errors. Example as shown below :-
Student : I am going to the market yesterday.
Teacher : I went to the market yesterday.

c). Provide Options
Teacher can provide option Ior some oI the questions asked by writing it on the
board. Then the students can try out all the options and come up with their answers.

d). Delayed error correction
Teacher can always correct the students error at end oI the lesson. This can be done
individually or also with the whole class but not directly pointing at the student who
made the error but the teacher can use a similar example to rectiIy the error.

e). Highlight the Issue
This technique can be used when most oI the students repeat the same kind oI error
and also repeatedly. This can be used especially when teachers are teaching
prepositions or articles.

There are many strategies available Ior teacher to use in error correction. How eIIective it
will be also depends how the teacher uses it towards the students and at the same time iI it is
the suitable one Ior the students. It is advisable that the teacher does a small study on the type
oI students they have and type oI error that they commit on a regular basis.

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.00 Conclusion
Based on the conversation in between Ah Leong and me, Ah Leong Iaces problem in
conversing in English. He is unable to establish the right usage oI grammar in his daily
conversation. II we realize that most students who come Irom the national-type oI schools
and whose Iamily background are not much in touch oI English Iace problem speaking,
understanding and mastering that language and the same goes to Malay language. In Ah
Leong`s case he has a lot oI his L1 inIluence whenever he wants to converse in English.
Ah Leong seem to make errors in English language communication