Grammatical Errors in Singapore Primary Students’ Written Chinese: Identification, Classification and Explanation

Project Number
RI 5/11 XF

Project Duration
March 2012 - March 2016


As effective research method in Second Language Acquisition, error analysis has been widely used in the research on teaching Chinese as a second language. However, most studies of lexical and grammatical errors in Chinese focus on adult learners. There has been very little research on the errors made by children, which are quite different from those arising from adult learners. As far as Singapore pupils are concerned, they make different errors from the Chinese learners in Europe, US and even China because Singapore has a unique sociolinguistic environment for Chinese learning. This study attempts to analyse the grammatical errors made by Singapore primary school students on the basis of an inter-language corpus formed by Chinese texts collected from local schools, aiming to identify, categorize and explain the errors made by local primary students. The study is quite different from previous research on error analysis in that is explores the underlying reasons for errors identified by examining the sociolinguistic context of Singapore. A systemic functional model for error explanation will be developed from this research. With respect to research methodology, this study integrates theoretical discussion and empirical approach to achieve its purpose. Many theories have been developed in the field of error analysis in the past few decades. This study will review previous research to develop a theoretical framework for data collection and analysis. On the pther hand, the study conducts the detailed analysis of errors on the basis of an inter-language corpus consisting of authentic discourses created by local students. The findings of this study will greatly increase the understanding of the inherent reasons for the errors made by local students. The study thus contributes to the training of Chinese teacher in Singapore by providing a clear profile of the errors probably occur in students learning process and the ways to solve relevant problems.

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