Analysis of syntactic errors made by intermediate English learners and the impact of their treatment on the learning progress


Jean Claude Ndeze


This study is an extension of previous researches on fundamental syntactic errors which intermediate English learners make in their English writing. It aims at investigating sources of syntactic errors and how they affect the language learning progress.  82 secondary school students were subjected to two free written 350-word essay tests to back up possible sentence structure errors they make.  The questionnaire was also administered to elicit opinions as to what are the error causes and reactions to error treatment strategy. 3647 syntactic errors were pinpointed and classified under four categories: selection, omission, addition and ordering errors. The findings reveals that selection errors outrank the forefront occurring frequently more than other errors (51.93%). Omission errors positionon on the second  (26.92%).  The next error category visible in learners’ English writing is  addition errors  cover 13.40% out of 3647 errors computed. The last category is misodrering errors (7.73%).  The most predominant errors in all language areas are wrong verb form, wrong choice of verb tense, tense marker omission or unnecessary tense marker addition as well as subject-verb agreement errors. It appears that tenses and verbs are the major problematic areas. Yet not all syntactic errors are the same for all English learners. The major sources of the above errors include rules over-generalizations, language transfer, poor motivation and practices, inherent natural complexity of the language, problem of language input and most importantly error treatment among others. The implications for language teachers are obvious. There is need for a change, for instance, in the techniques with which learners should be exposed to language input, predictable order of materials in Language teaching and new approaches to error treatment