The Most Common Errors in Thai Student's Writings

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Jirawoot Sararit, BA (English)

The Most Common Errors in Thai Student’s Writings
The language produced by ESL or EFL learners contains errors of various types. This is the process of language learning. Error Analysis is the study of strategies concerning with the means to identify the errors and to track the causes of errors such as mother tongue interference and intra-lingual interference. The objectives of this subject are to enhance learners’ abilities in the use of the target language and to improve teachers’ teaching methods. The errors are generally divided into three types: syntactic, phonological, and lexical errors. Syntactic errors are due to grammatically incorrect arrangements occurring in word, phrase, and clause levels. Phonological errors are caused by mispronunciation in the sound level while lexical errors focus on mistakes in lexical selection of words. In this paper, I would like to explain the most common errors committed by Thai students in their writings entitled ‘What Happiness Means to Me.’ These common errors include the inability to use articles, verbs, adjectives, and mechanics. Errors in the writing can be classified into two types depending on decisions about how serious the errors are: global and local errors (Lane & Lange, 1993). Global errors are considered to be serious and usually affect more than just a small part of a sentence as well as the reader’s understanding of the writer’s ideas. However, local errors are less serious and generally do not affect the understanding of readers. The most common errors found in five pieces of paper written by Thai students include: a) The inability to use articles

Articles are modifiers of nouns and pronouns; they are called noun determiners. Articles can be categorized into two types: definite and indefinite articles. The definite article ‘the’ is used to indicate a specific member of both countable nouns and uncountable nouns. The indefinite articles are ‘a’ and ‘an’ which are used to modify an unspecified member of countable nouns (Jotikasthira, 2006). Errors in the use of articles are considered as the first most common mistake found in Thai student’s writings. Since the use of articles is not universal, learners can produce numerous errors. This is because of intra-lingual interference. For example, they may use indefinite articles with uncountable nouns as in ‘a happiness*’ and ‘a health*.’ These are incorrectly written because indefinite articles will never be used with uncountable nouns, so the examples should be correctly written by deleting the articles as in ‘happiness’ and ‘health.’ Also, the reason why students produce numerous errors is that they may not know the exact rules and exceptions in the use of articles. If they do not know the rules, they tend to omit to use articles. It can lead to inhibitive interference and omission. For example, the students usually write ‘sit on bench* under the tree’ and ‘I will pay money to charity*.’ The noun ‘bench’ is specific since it is under the tree, and the specific noun will be used with the definite article. Therefore, the first example should be edited as ‘sit on the bench under the tree.’ For another example, the noun ‘charity’ is an unspecified noun, so it must be used with the indefinite article. From this reason, the second example should be corrected as ‘I will pay money to a charity.’ Because of difficulties within the target language, it can lead to intra-lingual interference, inhibitive interference, and omission. Apart from the errors mentioned above, the students are likely to commit addition. The students tend to add the article when it is not required as in these following sentences “I like to read the* books or do the* activities.” and “I face the* problems.” These examples are incorrectly added articles. The reason is that students may overgeneralize the use of definite article ‘the’ modifying countable nouns. It is true that the article ‘the’ can be used to...
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