The official website of educator & arts patron Jack C Richards

Error Analysis

Question:

Submitted by Chiara Bauer, Italy

What concrete and specific advice would you give me, an EFL teacher, which is based on the findings of error analysis?

Professor Richards Responds:

I don’t think there are any specific suggestions that result directly from error analysis. Error analysis has largely been replaced by other kinds of research in the field of Second Language Acquisition. However one of the general conclusions that developed out of early work in error analysis was that errors are not necessarily signs of faulty learning, but are indication of a creative- construction process at work as learners test out hypotheses and abstract the underlying rules and principles that accounted for language knowledge. Teachers were encouraged to spend less time on correcting errors and trying to elicit error-free production, and more time on providing rich, meaningful input for learning. However there is a stage when persistent errors need attention in case they lead to fossilisation. Here error analysis may be useful, providing information on which kinds of errors are transitional and which may require attention in teaching.