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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 8: Conclusion and discussion

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Chapter 8 Conclusion and discussion This study revealed that most errors committed by German and Polish 9th grade pupils occurred in the field of morphosyntax and lexis. While discourse organization errors were recorded less frequently than linguistic errors, though in significant quantities, explicit sociolinguistic errors were observed only to a limited degree. In addition, the L1 of the participants exerted an influence on their error distributions. German pupils made fewer sociolinguistic errors, while Polish pupils had a slight advantage in the area of discourse organization. Notably, the data revealed a moderate effect of the school type on the distributions of errors. Gymnasium pupils significantly outperformed Realschule pupils committing fewer linguistic errors but displayed comparable levels of accuracy in the remaining areas. Any attempt to assess language must recognize the fact that free language use requires the interplay of various facets of communicative competence. This implies, among others, that performance evaluation needs to incorporate an analysis of errors and instances of communicative successes, coupled with their synthesis which includes an examination of their interrelations. This study revealed that linguistic errors correlate with discourse organization errors to a certain degree. This suggests that to some extent linguistic and discourse organization errors can share the same origin. The data also revealed that various successful aspects of performance are interrelated. Successful use of discourse organization markers and pragmalinguistic resources, word count of the text as well as the number of lexically infrequent elements used in it are positively correlated. This...

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