Error Analysis in the Written Compositions of Spanish Engineering Students: A Comparative Taxonomy

Antonio Daniel Juan Rubio, Isabel Maria Garcia Conesa


Needless to say, writing is a language skill that for most FL students is quite difficult to master. Especially for undergraduate technical students, this seems to be a challenging task since the presence of difficulties in any FL writing forces them to commit various errors in their written productions. Henceforth, errors seem to be inevitable when writing in a foreign language. And in order to regulate this appearance of errors, many researchers have started to study the errors made by these students, putting then into different categories.

Therefore, what this research paper tries to identify and track is those errors made by engineering students in a public Spanish Polytechnic University over the last two academic years. We shall attempt to categorise errors based on their source following the comparative taxonomy proposed by Dulay, Burt and Krashen in “Language Two” (1982), one of the different taxonomies as established by them.

And in order to conduct this research, a total of 70 essays undertaken by a number of engineering students were selected taking into account their written productions along the task assigned in these two last academic years. These numerous writings have thus been analysed and the errors detected have been tracked down and categorised basing ourselves on the comparative analysis of errors.

The main objective of this study is to prove that the results obtained from this analysis have undoubtedly demonstrated that the majority of errors committed by these engineering students can be classified as belonging to the interlingual category, being the category with the highest number of occurrences, contrary to the opinion of some other researchers. In terms of the number of incidences, we shall validate that the errors detected in those 70 essays can be graded in the following order according to this comparative taxonomy of errors: interlingual errors, other errors, ambiguous errors, and developmental errors.

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