The difficulties and the errors motivated by other reasons than those of language interference are beyond the scope of the study. Also the study uses the English language as a foreign one, not the first language. The auding test activities were not designed for any educational purposes, only for the research ones. The sources of data are the following: students’ oral and written responses. The phonological difficulties and errors were observed in students’ oral answers after the first listening of the suggested text.
The difficulties and the errors of understanding were observed in the written answers of the understanding check. Finally, the data on the difficulties and errors of expression was collected from the students’ written retellings after the second listening. The present study is based on the auding test with oral and written tasks. The auding test includes sociolinguistic and cultural components which may create difficulties for understanding and expression of Maldivian students. The text was the first chapter of “Hampton House” by Jenny Dooley (1996) read by a native English speaker.
The text was presented for the students of the 8th grade at Aminiya school, girls secondary school in Male. Students’ oral answers were recorded in order to fix the pronunciation and to find out the common errors caused by the mother tongue interference. The written answers consisted of understanding check and retelling. The aim of the questions was to check the understanding of the content and socio-cultural concepts used in the chapter. The following written retelling showed students’ expression and helped to reveal the common difficulties and errors caused by the mother tongue interference.
The observation session lasted for 70 minutes and consisted of the following: listening 1 (3 min), oral questions (22 min); listening 2 (3 min), written questions and retelling (42 min). The audio test was conducted by the teacher of the English language; the function of the researcher was in observation and data fixation. The participation of the study was voluntary and concerned only the students of the 8th grade of one of the Maldivian schools. No specific requirements were made for the students’ level of knowledge of the English language, age, and the area of residence.
The test and the purposes of the study were announced beforehand, the students willing to take part got registration 3 days before the test. The test was conduced in a separate room after classes. Students’ names were coded in order to avoid any subjectivity in the study. The number of participants was 40. The errors of the students observed in audio test The chapter suggests error analysis observed in students’ oral and written responses. The typical errors of pronunciation (oral responses) caused by language interference, according to the categorization proposed by Weinreich (1953)
Using a more general categorization proposed by Moulton (1962), the pronunciation errors can be divided into the following groups: phonemic errors: 23 phonetic errors: 31 allophonic errors: 9 distributional errors: 8 The typical errors of expression caused by language interference The errors of expression (written responses) observed were mostly in the usage of modal verbs and sentence structure. The difficulty in usage of modal verbs was to distinguish between those expressing polite request and command while paraphrasing such sentences as: “I am new here and I don’t know anybody, so I thought perhaps I could help you.
” (“Hampton House p. 7, provided in the appendix) The difficulty in the structure of the sentences was noticed in the positioning of such words as “perhaps”, “suddenly”, “probably”, “as usual” etc. Summing up, the each of the groups of expression errors was observed in the following quantity: usage of modal verbs – 53 sentence structure – 62 Total number of expression errors – 115 The typical errors of understanding caused by language interference The errors of understanding were observed in conceptual structures, the interpretation of the dialogue, idiomatic expressions, and notions.
Conceptual structures: “Can you babysit for the Smiths this afternoon? ” (p. 7), The meaning of the dialogue: “Don’t believe a word she says. Bye-bye everybody. See you later. ” “All right, but not too much later. We have a lot of things to do, you know! ” (p. 8) Idiomatic expression: “lets hit the road! ”(p. 8). Notions: Helping Hand club (p. 7), Old peoples’ home (p. 8), young lady (p. 7). Summing up, the each of the groups of understanding errors was observed in the following quantity: