Error analysis emerged with the growing criticism of constrictive analysis. It was S.P Corder who first advocated in ELT and Applied linguistics community the importance of errors in language learning process. Corder (1967) mentions the paradigm shift in linguistics from a behaviouristic view of language to a more rationalistic view and claims that in language teaching, one noticeable effect is to shift the emphasis away from teaching towards study of learning.
Corder further argues that in L1 we interpret child’s ‘incorrect utterances’ as being evidence that the child is in the process of acquiring language and that for those who attempt to describe his knowledge of the language at any point of its development, it is the ‘errors’ which provide the important evidence. For learners themselves, the errors are ‘indispensable,’ since the marking of errors can be regarded as a device the learner uses in order to learn
Selinker (1992) pointed out two highly significant contributions that Corder made: that the errors of a learner, whether adult or child are not random, but are in fact systematic, and are not negative or interfering in a way with learning a TL but are, on the contrary, a necessary positive factor.
It is important here to make a distinction between ‘errors’ and ‘mistakes’ Both Corder (1967, 1971) and James (1998) reveal a contribution that helps us to do so: it is the self correctability criterion. A mistake can be self-corrected, but errors can not. Mistakes are manifest in slip of the tongue, random ungrammaticalities and other performance lapse that are common to both native speakers and second language speakers. Errors are ‘systematic,’ i.e. likely to occur repeatedly and not recognized by the learner. Hence, only the teacher or the researcher would locate them, the learner wouldn’t (Gass & Selinker, 1994).
Thus errors are idiosyncrasies of the interlanguage of the learner which are direct manifestation of a system within...