Although English is the second language of most Hong Kong students and it is the compulsory subject in primary and secondary schools, Chinese students always are confused with the English grammar rule. It is not uncommon to see they make grammatical errors in their writing. The present study analyzes the errors in the English writing of Chinese secondary school students. It is a specific study consisting of one sample of language use: composition collected from 20 second language learners. The focus of the study is to find out the common errors L2 learners have and explain why they make such errors.
Up to now, different scholars have agreed the importance of error analysis and have done many researches on this topic. Wong (1999) says that error analysis is important as it can help explain and describe the errors made by L2 learners effectively. Richards (1971) also claims the analysis of errors and interference between languages has been a central aspect of the study of bilingualism. According to George (1972) and Corder (1973), students cannot correct many of their errors by themselves when they proofread their writing. George suggests, therefore, those students need some guidance in recognizing deviant forms and structures in their written work.
The task of error analysis not only involves students’ problems on writing, but also indicates the difficulty of marking students’ compositions. Teachers sometimes find it uneasy to decide when learners’ errors should be corrected. Imagine that a teacher is marking a composition written by a Chinese student. He reads a sentence “That sees have boys queue-jump yesterday”. Then what should he do? In this sentence, the tense is incorrect and two verbs and two nouns appear even the pronoun “that” is not used properly. Burt (1975) reports most teachers training programs fail to handle the variety of errors that occur inevitably in students’ speech and writing. ...