Grammar Mistakes Made by Non-Native English Language Speakers

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Grammatical mistakes made by non- native English language speakers.

Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication. The scientific study of language in any of its senses is called linguistics. Linguistic theory has traditionally considered native speakers as the only reliable source of linguistic data (Chomsky 1965). It is therefore not surprising to find only a limited number of works focusing on non-native speakers prior to the 1990s. The first attempt to put‘(non)nativism’ onto the centre stage of linguistic inquiry by challenging current undisputed assumptions on the matter was Paikeday’s (1985) The native speaker is dead , in which it is argued that the native speaker ‘exists only as a figment of linguist’s imagination’ (Paikeday 1985: 12). Paikeday suggested using the term ‘proficient user’ of a language to refer to all speakers who can successfully use it. A few years later, Rampton (1990) similarly proposed the term ‘expert speaker’ to include all successful users of a language. Davies (1991, 2003) further delved into ‘native speaker’ identity, and thus formulated the key question of whether a second language (L2) learner can become a native speaker of the target language. His conclusion was that L2 learners can become native speaker of the target language and master the intuition, grammar, spontaneity, creativity, pragmatic control, and interpreting quality of ‘born’ native speakers. Generally, English educated Malaysians of all ethnic and family language background speak and move alike. However, with the implementation of the national language policy of Bahasa Malaysia as the national language of Malaysia and as the language of instruction, (except in the cases of Chinese or Tamil medium primary schools), the status of English Language in Malaysia is different from the earlier years. The English language covered a continuum from first language through second language to a foreign language. Bahasa Malaysia is replacing English in most of its previous functions, but English may be expected to remain as a continuum from second language to foreign language according to the background and occupation of the speaker. In Malaysia, presently the use of English is less common than in Singapore and is likely to decrease steadily with the implementation of the national language policy. However, English still remains as a language of considerable importance and is still being used in various spheres of everyday activity. The role of English has changed from its earlier status as the precise language of the colonial era and the decades after the Second World War to a second language. At the moment, it is still considered as an international code to be used for diplomatic and commercial negotiations and as a language necessary in many fields of tertiary study and research. Not surprisingly, the non-native English language speakers among Malaysians make grammatical mistakes from time to time. These usually happened among Malaysian adult students and even among some Malaysian English teachers.

1. The transcript of a recorded conversation.
The following excerpt is a recorded conversation among teachers and will be analysed of the mistakes made by some teachers during discussion. Our discussion was on the quality and effectiveness of a programme called ‘Program Penutur Jati’ or English Language Teacher Development Project (ELTP). Briefly, the aim of the project is to enhance the lower primary ESL teachers’ ability to plan and deliver quality English lessons based on the new National English Language Curriculum in 600 schools across East Malaysia. The teachers involved in discussion come from various races, ethnic groups, ages and teaching experiences.

Kamel : That is my opinion. I don’t know yours. Ok. Chairperson : I agree ....laugh Kamel : But , as I said just...
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