Common Lexical Errors and the Possible Effect of L1 Turkish

Can T.

12th International ELT Research Conference, Çanakkale, Turkey, 16 - 18 March 2022

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Unpublished
  • City: Çanakkale
  • Country: Turkey
  • TED University Affiliated: Yes


Research studies investigating learner errors show that language teachers consider lexical errors to be most the significant infelicities in student writing. They are particularly important because the existence and frequency of these errors is most likely to create a communication breakdown in written production. The systematic investigation of these errors and their possible sources can help language instructors plan their lessons accordingly and guide L2 English students in their writing. The detection of these infelicities and their possible causes has also the potential to contribute to Second Language Acquisition (SLA) theories and illuminate the interlanguage phases of the L2 English learners in different contexts. There are various reasons for lexical errors in L2 English, such as L1 transfer. Studies to date has indicated that cognitive reasons seem to dominate these language problems and they are seen as the reflection of the learning (acquisition) process. One may assume that more proficient learners make fewer lexical mistakes, but research so far has confirmed that the phenomenon is much more complicated than that and more elaborate investigation is needed. Over the years, experts have had certain attempts to categorize learner errors and used different approaches to this end. The current study uses Hemchua ve Schmitt’s (2006) taxonomy as the starting point since it is one of the most comprehensive in the literature. However, the taxonomy is also adapted according to our learner corpus and considering the Turkish context. The writers of the texts in the corpus are 100 undergraduate students of English Language Teaching. The preliminary frequency and percentage analyses show that L1 Turkish learners of English tend to make relatively more semantic lexical errors than formal lexical errors. To be more precise, nearly a quarter of the errors we detected are due to the confusion of sense relations, around twenty percent of them are due to wrong use of prepositions, and a little less than fifteen percent of the errors are due to collocational problems. In addition, we have attributed certain collocational errors to L1 transfer and found some calques in our sample. Our findings are discussed in light of the current SLA theories and based on the detected lexical errors; some pedagogical conclusions are drawn.