Error Analysis and CFL Learning in Northern Ireland: Error Processing by Beginners

Xiuping Li, Francis Kane

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

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Error Analysis (EA) is a cognitive process that complements language learning. While EA research literature has drawn mostly from English as a Foreign Language (EFL) contexts for its data, Chinese as a Foreign Language (CFL) learner errors also prove a rich resource which, understood and turned to the learner’s advantage, offer a means to create informed personalised cognitive approaches to learning and‘ honing’ one’s Chinese. This paper explores the strengths and limitations of an EA approach among beginner-level learners of Chinese in an English-medium university in Northern Ireland. Learners are found to have much to gain by activating cognitive learning processes as early and as effectively as possible, allowing momentum and motivation to be maintained despite the potentially daunting prospect of acquiring an unfamiliar‘ new’ linguistics of tones and characters. The paper briefly reviews EA in theory and reports on authentic practice. Errors from class, coursework and test sources are categorised, analysed for likely cause and then strategized for future treatment. The study establishes a‘ live’ taxonomy of its small population’s error processing, including details of teacher interventions. EA experienced as an ongoing learning process appears to offer scaffolding and assurance, as well asa potentially enjoyable and‘ thinking’ journey towards accuracy, an educational strategy this group of beginner CFL learners in a Northern Ireland university responded to very positively.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcquisition, Assessment and Application: Theory and Practice of Teaching Chinese in Higher Education Applied Chinese Language Studies VII
EditorsZhiyan Guo, Binghan Zheng
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Print)978-1-907838-45-3
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Jun 2016


  • Teaching Chinese as a foreign language (TCFL)
  • error analysis (EA)
  • error treatment
  • strategies
  • cognitive linguistic error processing.


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