RE: errors & mistakes in language? page 2
An error is the noticeable deviation from the adult grammar of a native speaker reflecting the interlanguage competence of the learner.
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I'm currently training ESL teachers. I work to bring them to the aforementioned linguistic definition of mistakes and errors (mistakes being a slip of the tongue and errors being a deeper structure they've likely not been exposed to). Often some teachers feel that these definitions should be reversed, or that they are really synonyms, and having trouble accepting this definition. Does anyone have suggestions of how I might be able to apply error/mistake distinction to their daily life to show them that mistakes are surface things they can self-correct, while errors are more subconscious?
JvmHi all,Maybe it's because of my English (I'm an ESL learner), but I'm not sure... You are trying to teach ESL teachers to teach their students to realize the distinction...?
Welcome to the forum, nice to have you here
In trying to come up with an analogy, the closeset I can think of is trying to explain grammatical gender to someone whose native language has none. Rather than try to convince them that, for instance, a table is inherently and obviously feminine while a book is equally obviously masculine, I would just say "We have divided nouns into two categories (or three if the language has neuter) and we have arbitrarily decided to call this group 'feminine' and the other 'masculine.' Is has nothing to do with the way you would use those words in other contexts, and there is no point in suggesting that the designations should be reversed. Just learn the way the terms are used in this field of study."
As a student, I could much more easily accept "It's arbitrary, just accept the way we use it in this context" than any attempt to make it appear to be inherent in the essential meaning of the words.
"error" and "mistake" as the terms are used in linguistics is purely arbitrary. The definitions could just as easily have been established in reverse.Here, here, khoff!
For what it's worth, I think your whole post is just lovely! Perfect, really. [L]
Thanks, Jim. It's worth a lot, actually. I always appreciate knowing when people like my posts. (When you're not working or in school, positive feedback, especially for intellectual matters, doesn't happen all that often.)
Feathers, I was speaking as potential "native English would-be teacher." I certainly agree with you and Jvm that understanding the distinction between the two types of problems is important. I'm just saying that the terminology applied to the distinction is arbitrary, and, at least if I were the student, it would be easier to focus on the inherent distinction if it was admitted from the beginning that the labels were arbitrary.
Actually, I learned a lot from this thread. Being only a casual student/teacher of language, I had never had the difference between the two categories of incorrect language use pointed out to me. I think it's interesting.
People are waiting to help.
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