Student errors are considered as a device that learners use and from which they can learn (Corder, 1967); they provide evidence of the learner's level in the target language (Gass and Selinker, 1983), contain valuable information on the learning strategies of learners (AbiSamra, 2003; Lightbown and Spada, 2006; Richards, 1974; Taylor, 1975), and also supply means by which teachers can assess learning and teaching as well as determine priorities for future effort (Richards and Sampson, 1974). Conducting error analysis is therefore one of the best ways to describe and explain errors committed by L2 learners. Errors in language learning, therefore, play an important role in this study. With this in mind, this study was designed to identify important features of students' errors, categorize those errors, and analyze the causes of their errors in passive sentence structures produced by first-year students at Thammasat University, Bangkok. Ninety students were given a written test consisting of 25 pairs of nouns and verbs, ten of which were transitive verbs. The students were instructed to form sentences with all of the given nouns as subjects followed by the verb. The passive sentences generated by the students were then analyzed and divided into five categories: well-formed passives (WP), malformed passives (MP), actives (ACT), ungrammatical sentences (US), and non-sentences (NS). In addition, the number and types of errors produced by high and low proficiency groups of students were identified and compared. The findings will not only help improve understanding of causes of errors made in passive sentence construction but also contribute to the preparation of teaching materials and methodology appropriate to the students, which will ultimately enhance the students' ability to write passive sentences in English.
Monnipha Somphong, Thammasat University, Thailand
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