Omani Undergraduate Students' Writing Errors: Reflections

Omani Undergraduate Students' Writing Errors: Reflections

Muhammed Ali Chalikandy (Al Buraimi University College, Oman)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6619-1.ch017
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Abstract

This chapter analyses learners' writing errors. It focuses on error types and sources because these will reveal learners' current linguistic competence and what they need now for improvement. Data was collected mainly from the written work of English Department students at Al Buraimi University College. Results show that their errors are both interlingual and intralingual and that there is a positive relationship between these and learning strategies. Not only does the learners' previous language-learning experience influence the process of second language acquisition; target language learning experience does so as well.
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Introduction

Teaching and learning are two sides of the same coin. Though teaching brings about changes in learners, it does not simply lead to learning because learning requires learners’ energy and attention (Scrivener, 2005). In other words, learning is the result of personal effort. Learners need to reflect on their learning experience in order to generate new ideas which will empower them to tackle new learning situations effectively. Scrivener (2005) points out that, “new learning is constructed over the foundations of our own earlier learning” (p. 21). Thus SL learners use previously-acquired structures, reasons, logic, and strategies in each new learning situation. Specifically, ESL learners use their mother tongue and the target language as a result of transfer, interference, and overgeneralization (Corder, 1974; Odlin, 1989; Richard, 1974) in the process of learning English. Brown (2007) has observed that “the three terms are sometimes mistakenly considered to represent separate processes; they are more correctly understood as several manifestations of one principle of learning - the interaction of previously learned material with a present learning event” (p. 102).

All formal learning and teaching take place in a social situation like a classroom which is influenced by the culture on which the local society is constructed. As a result, learners bring with them to the classroom their culture and first language, along with a variety of personal agendas which affect the entire teaching and learning process. As far as Omani learners of English are concerned, Arabic, as their mother tongue, plays a crucial role in the process. Thus a pertinent question is whether Arabic plays a negative role, causing troubles to learners of English, or whether the role is positive. This chapter focuses on this central issue. Related questions are:

  • Do Omani learners of English actually face problems in writing?

  • What types of problems do they have and what are the reasons?

  • What constitutes their interlanguage?

  • Are their errors a hindrance or a learner strategy?

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