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Variability in Learner Errors as a Reflection of the CLT Paradigm Shift

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Joanna Pfingsthorn

In the last three decades the field of language teaching and learning has undergone a paradigm shift towards Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), which has put an emphasis on meaningful interaction and implied an abrupt departure from an extensive study of learner errors. Although learners in CLT classes are expected to be competent, yet not perfectly accurate communicators, the impact of the CLT paradigm on learner errors has not been investigated thoroughly. This study examines the extent to which the CLT paradigm shift has left its mark on learner errors. Written production is analyzed and compared with learner data recorded in the early stages of the shift to CLT. The data reveal that while morphosyntactic errors have not undergone drastic changes, discourse organization and lexical skills have improved.

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Chapter 7: Results

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Chapter 7 Results The following chapter presents the results of the empirical study conducted among German and Polish 9th grade pupils, described in Chapter 5. The analysis begins with a brief overview of all observed error types and causes. The subsequent sections discuss the three main error categories, namely linguistic, discourse organization and sociolinguistic errors, in closer detail, following the proposed error taxonomy (see Chapter 6). Measures complementing errors are also included in the discussion. The section involves, in addition, an analysis of potential correlations and interactions between various types of errors and successful realizations of language. Finally, the observed error distributions are compared with the data gathered by Hecht & Green (1983). All scores are reported either in the form of a sum or the mean score of the number of errors, or the number of occurrences of a phenomenon. Standard deviation is also given as a measure of dispersion from the mean. The focus of the analysis lies in the comparison of two groups: Gymnasium pupils (henceforth Gym) and Realschule pupils (henceforth RS). In most cases, however, the results obtained for the sample of Polish pupils are included for comparison and/or contrast reasons. Each error category indicates problems with or the inability to supply a certain language form. 190 7. Results 7.1 Errors: a general overview Current Gym pupils make an average of 2,63 linguistic error per letter. In this sense they seem to be making slightly fewer errors than Gym pupils in the early 1980s (M=4,...

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