Error analysis of students in learning vocabulary

Carrie Kam Hung CHAU & Irene Kwok Chun IP

City University of Hong Kong, China


To err is human. To learn from errors is helpful. To analyse students’ errors is important for teachers’ plan for their teaching. In our study, attempt has been made to analyse some language students’ errors in learning vocabulary, which is a building block of language. It is hoped that this will shed light on students’ language acquisition and more emphasis can be placed on how these errors can be avoided, and how the students’ difficulties can be identified with some suggestions to overcome them. A group of tertiary language students were recruited to be the subjects of the present study. A test was given to them to test their prior knowledge in the related vocabulary. Then they were given a list of glossaries to study. The glossaries were taken from different fields, including literature, public relations, public affairs, as well as accounting and finance in bilingual versions with Chinese as L1 and English as L2. A test was conducted to check how much the participating students had learnt from the bilingual list of glossaries. They were given some items in English and they had to translate these into Chinese, and vice versa. Several levels of comparison have been taken into account for analysis: different genders and backgrounds of participating students, different categories of glossaries, and also varied degrees of competence in English and Chinese as reflected in the test performance.

Keywords: error analysis, vocabulary learning, second language acquisition