Simon Thomas answers the question “What causes ESL students to make speaking and writing errors? “ quite comprehensively in a recent blog post at efl-resource.com.

He looks at the differences between “mistakes” (lack of knowledge or understanding) and “slips” (performance errors) – which I think is a distinction originally made by Pit Corder in his 1981 book “Error Analysis and Interlanguage“.  Simon goes on to look at possible causes and possible solutions to learner errors.

Since I started typing this – Simon’s just published a further three posts extending and developing the topic (though I haven’t had a chance to read them all yet!):

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If you’re a glutton for the error correction punishment, then why  not also look at Alex Case’s 2008 checklist of how to arrive at “A Well Balanced Use of Error Correction” from the Using English site?
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Or get some great ideas from Colin Barnett’s onestopenglish article on Conversational Feedback and Effective Error Correction?
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Or look at Scott Thornbury’s musings on the nature and source of mistakes (a brief look at the interference debate) in “E is for Error“?
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There’s also an ELTChat summary by Michelle Worgan (containing some nice links to methodology articles and materials) on “How do you deal with fossilized errors and help students improve their accuracy?” which is worth reading.
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