Analysis of Higher Education Students’ Errors in English Writing Tasks

Ali Özkayran, Emrullah Yılmaz


The aim of this study is to analyse the errors of higher education students in English writing tasks. In the study, the paragraphs in the exam papers of 57 preparatory class students, studying at a state university in Turkey in 2017-2018 academic year, were analysed. The study was conducted using qualitative research method. Case study was used in the research. Document analysis was used to collect data. The collected data were analysed in line with Surface Strategy Taxonomy and errors were identified and classified. As a result of the error analysis process, it was observed that the students made a total of 381 errors on 57 exam papers; 192 of them were misformation errors, 113 were omission errors, 65 were addition errors and only 11 were misordering errors. Misformation was the most frequent error among the students with a percentage of 50.39. In addition, the percentage of omission errors was 29.66%, that of addition errors was 17.06% and misordering errors was 2.89%. The professionals teaching English as a foreign language should focus more on prepositions, verb “to be”, spelling, articles, singular/plural forms of nouns, word formation, tenses, word choice and subject-verb agreement, which were the most problematic areas of language listed under the four main categories by developing efficient instructional techniques and materials. They should also respect learners’ errors and set up a positive atmosphere where learners can easily express themselves in the target language without the fear of committing errors.
There are lots of languages in the world and some of them have come to the fore due to the fact that they are spoken by millions and even billions of people. People generally learn the language spoken where they are born, however; the developments in the fields such as communication, transportation, tourism and trade forced people to learn the languages that they didn’t need to learn in the past. English is the most popular one of those languages and for some it is the lingua franca (Modiano, 2004; Becker and Kluge, 2014) of our age.
Millions of people in the world speak English as their mother tongue while others must learn it as a second (ESL) or foreign language (EFL). Learning English as second or foreign language differs with respect to learners’ attitudes towards English and the people who speak it as their native language, exposure to English, their sources of motivation and so on. The main focus of this study is learning English as a foreign language as English is not the primary language in the country where the study was carried out.
A considerable


Error Analysis, Writing, English, Higher Education, Language Learning

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