97.  SOS on errors and treatment --
I need your help in providing me copies of several types of errors committed by students in their classroom recitations and the respective treatments done by their teachers. Is there a comprehensive listing of all these errors, i.e., typologies, categorizations, and models together with their treatments?

I am delighted to reply to your message, which is very interesting.

In general, errors fall into the following categories, especially errors in speech or oral language: There are:

  1. Phonological,
  2. Morphological,
  3. Syntactical / Grammatical,
  4. Semantic, and
  5. Cultural errors.

Phonological errors include mistakes made by students when pronouncing the sounds of a language, the combinations of sounds, intonation patterns, pitch, junctures, and --when reading aloud-- improper sound-to-symbol correlations.

Corrections for these types of errors vary with the age of the learner. In general, modeling by the teacher is the most effective method of correction. In modeling, teachers need to remember that students may not "hear" the sounds the teacher is pronouncing in a word or phrase. Thus, the teacher may need to use "minimal pairs," that is, two words that differ by only one sound, the sound students do not "hear." For example, Spanish speakers have a very difficult time hearing as "different" the initial sounds in the minimal pair "chair / share."

Morphological errors, related to pronunciation errors, happen when students mispronounce parts or pieces of words, prefixes, suffixes, etc., or mismatch combinations of roots and pre-/suffixes. These types of errors can and do occur in writing, too.

Modeling by the teacher is, again, the most effective way to correct these errors. Spanish speakers, for example, have a difficult time hearing as "different" the suffixes marking "past tense" in English: "walked / hugged." Or the suffixes marking "plural:" "books / pencils;" or the suffixes marking "(s)he/it:" "eats / stands;" or the suffixes marking "possessive:" "Pat’s / John’s." Many non-English speakers need models to learn compound words or to attach appropriate prefixes to word roots: "disloyal / unintentional."

Syntactical or grammatical errors, in speech or writing, depend on many factors, especially on the native language of the second language learner, and on improper generalizations of grammatical information or rules. For younger learners, modeling is the only way to correct these errors. Older learners who can develop grammatical concepts about their own language and can transfer these concepts to --or master new concepts-- about another language benefit from grammatical explanations.

In general, there are two types of "grammar rules:"

  1. Some grammar rules are based on the speaker’s or the writer’s perception of the reality to which the rule applies. For example, The phrases and the sentences that follow:
  2. "fighting bulls" / bulls fighting"

    "This man clearly can’t see." / "This man can’t see clearly."

    show how word order signals the speaker’s/the writer’s perception of reality and how this perception is expressed.

  3. Other rules refer to language features that are totally arbitrary and must be mastered as a result of practice. For example, in English, the initial word sound determines which indefinite article form must be used: "a book" / "an hour."

Thus, error correction depends:

  1. on PERCEIVING the reality (visuals) + practice, or
  2. on understanding the arbitrary features of the rule + practice.

Semantic errors include errors in word usage as well as errors in using idiomatic expressions or idioms, sayings, proverbs, etc.

Visuals (pictures, posters, realia, manipulatives, etc.) and categorization of words into semantic sets (animals, parts of the body, movement, etc. are examples of semantic sets) help understand the meaning of words. For example, "lead" needs to be categorized as an action, "lead, head, guide, influence, surpass," etc., and as an element: "lead, gold, silver, carbon," etc.

Idioms / Idiomatic expressions require context to be understood or used appropriately, and, thus, error correction involves lots of "acting out," dramatizations, and modeling of usage according to the occasion, etc. For example, a simple idiomatic expression like "raining cats and dogs," needs to be demonstrated at the appropriate time, or its meaning will be totally misunderstood.

Cultural errors involve "body language" as well as gestures, body movement, mannerism, etc. These must be demonstrated by teachers and practiced at appropriate occasions.

Intonation patterns and dialectical expressions are part of the culture and need to be taught and practiced.

The topics of "errors" and "error correction" are indeed fascinating!


For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for
Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for
New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)

Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.


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