error treatment

Error Treatment on the Students’ Writing

When teachers have analyzed the students’ errors by doing error analysis, the question emerges to them is that what can they do with the analysis of students errors. When and how to treat or to overcome them? Brown (2000:235) states there are three different choices in treating the students’ errors.

The first choice symbolizes as a green light in which teachers give the students affective feedback and allowing them to continue their message across because the students have made other people comprehend their message. A red light represents the corrective feedback from the teacher that makes the students change their language production. While yellow light symbolizes the midst of the two colors that cause the learner to adjust, to alter, to recycle, or to try again in getting their message conveyed.

However, it is no doubt that in the teaching and learning process in the classroom, the students generally want and expect errors to be corrected (Cathcart & Olsen in Brown, 2000:237). They also value the teachers’ feedback and utilize them to know their fallacy and improve themselves in producing the language.

The starting point in the beginning of the process of giving treatment to students’ errors is that the students’ knowledge of being wrong. Corder (1973:293) states that drawing the learners’ attention to errors they have made is a part to provide them the evidence that they should discover the right system. In other word, if they are aware of their errors; they realize that they have ‘missed’ somewhere in their language production and it will be easy to make them gain effort on finding the correct form and also to make changes, adjust or omit their language production.


However, according to studies by Manoa Writing Program in The University of Hawai‘i (2005) many language errors are rooted on understanding content. The treatment on the students’ errors should focus on strategies for helping students gain control over their written language in both structural and semantic. The treatment also should be given in the whole of the students’ writing process. It means that teachers or instructors should not focus on the feedback only when the students have finished their writing. They should also consider that the anticipation, feedback or treatment on the students’ error that are given in the beginning, in the middle, near on the due date or in the second draft and when reading the final draft. These are suggestions he offer that comes primarily from instructors who have taught several writing-intensive courses.


a. In the beginning, devise assignment to promote effective language use

Assessment studies conducted by The University of Hawai‘i Mānoa Writing Program (2005) indicate that the more unfamiliar the students are with a topic or the more novel the task, the greater the incidence of surface error. So, the first key to help students gain language proficiency is shaping assignments to help them understand content and structure that they may use in composing their writing. Teachers could, for example, require them to read thoroughly about familiar topic to broaden their language exposure and write informal writing in response to it. Then, he can ask them to use their informal writing as their outline and draft of their writing. To make them aware of the structure, they should be given a task on certain language structure that they find in their outline or draft by first giving them explanation about it.


b. In the middle, give feedback on content, prescription on style and advice on usage

The teacher should give comment on how well the students’ writing deals with content and structure and also solicit their own comment on the content and structure of their own writing. It is useful to gain the students’ awareness of their writing whether it has fulfilled the assignment and follow the rules on the arrangement of ideas in words and phrases.

There are two different kinds of feedback related to usage that can be given in the students’ writing namely direct and indirect feedback. Ferris in Yingliang Liu (2004) defined direct feedback as when an instructor provides the correct linguistic form for students (word, morpheme, phrase, rewritten sentence, deleted word[s] or morpheme[s]. Indirect feedback, on the other hand, occurs when the teacher indicates that an error has been made but leaves it to the student writer to solve the problem and correct the error. Students will then utilize both direct and indirect feedback from the teacher to adjust, omit, or alter their writing.


c. Near on the due date, help students to edit their own writing

Teach students how to fix one or two of the most frequent kinds of error before they do their final edit. It is more efficient than giving mark on each student’s error. Peer editing is also very useful in helping students edit their own writing. Teachers can require the students to read their draft aloud to an ‘editing partner’. Studies by Manoa Writing program (2005) reports that writers who read their texts aloud often have self-correct grammar errors. An editing partner is useful for students to have someone who points out the errors that the students made in their writing.

Near on the due date; require students to proofread their writing to encounter any structural errors that they may still have on their writing. Before doing that, it is an advantage for teachers to take advantage on cooling off period in which teachers collect the students’ writing and doing nothing to them. Then, on the next class return the students’ writing and ask them to proofread.


d. When reading final writing, stress the students’ writing strength

Highlighting on the students’ writing strength, what they have done right in their writing can make the students grasp what they know what to do as writers and to see subsequent writing tasks as opportunities for new learning.



Brown, H.D. 2000. Principles of Language Learning and Teaching.New York: Pearson Education.



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