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Numer: 4737
Dział: Języki obce

Possibile mistakes in translation

According to Harmer (1998), writing skill is a basic language skill, just as important as speaking, listening and reading. Language students learn how to write letters, descriptions, reports, essays and how to respond to different assignments.
Teachers of English give their students diverse tasks which depend on their level of study, motivation and age. Again, a written task should be adapt to students’ language abilities. Another important factor which cannot be omitted is the students’ interest in various subjects. It is easer for students to complete the task when they enjoy the project.
Considering all the factors above, a teacher is not limited in his choices of written tasks for his students. However, his decisions will be taken according to usage of activity, their writing skills and their age. Students should be motivated at every level as well (Harmer, 1998).
Furthermore, there is a correction problem of written tasks. It should be started that a correcting is very significant as a part of teaching–learning process. However, students can feel uncomfortable if a teacher hands them back a sheet of paper covered in red ink, especially when they cannot identify what kind of mistakes they made. It is a powerful visual proof of their current knowledge or rather a lack of it. Pointing out to them all the mistakes can discourage them to further learning process. That is way, the teacher should compromise an accurate correction and a concern about students’ feelings (Harmer, 1998).

Harmer (1998) provides a way of dealing with an over–correction problem. He (1998) suggests that both the teacher and the students can concentrate on one kind of mistakes connected for instance with punctuation, spelling or grammar. The students benefit from the situation because the certain mistakes are clearly indicated and they are provided with the input to work on it critically. Moreover, the over–correction aspect is limited to minimum (Harmer, 1998).
Harmer (2003) suggests another solution to avoid the over–correction effect. The teacher can divide mistakes into different categories. This list need to be discuss with students in order to achieve agreement on a list of written symbols. Both teachers and students take advantage of this clear situation. On the one hand, students can recognize mistakes very easily and do not feel confused with red underlinings and crossings–out. On the other hand, it takes less time to correct the written task according to the clear rules.
Harmer (2003) reminds that the mistakes correction is the worthful activity when the students understand the correction problem and they refer to earlier pieces of written work.

The place of mistakes must be pointed out very clearly in order to give the students a possibility to recognize what the problem is. There is an every chance that the students will correct the mistakes. Harmer (2003) suggests that the teacher might also consider a possibility of an additional coding system for the advanced students. To cut a long process short, the teacher can use a computer in order to check students’ tasks more effectively (Harmer, 2003).
Whatever way the teacher chooses, using symbols makes the whole process more helpful and less frustrating (Harmer, 2003).

Harmer (2003) states also that the possible mistakes can be foreseen because of the first language interference and developmental errors. As far as the first language interference is considered, the mistakes can appear:

Firstly, at the level of sound, when there is not an identical sounds discrimination in two different language systems. Secondly, at the level of grammar, there is a range variety of possible mistakes. Thirdly, at the level of word usage, where pairs of similar sounding words can be misunderstood because of their slightly different meanings (Harmer, 2003).

What is more, developmental errors are connected with the phenomenon of over–generalization in child language development. According to Harmer (2003), a careful analysis of developmental errors showed that children make excessive use of the past tense of a verb by adding the regular past tense –ed morpheme in situations where the sentence demands using of the irregular verb. Again, the students try to simplify the complexity of given task in writing production. In other words, the students of English over–generalize given rules and make developmental errors as children. Harmer (2003) adds that the teacher should be aware of such a phenomenon and lead students to successful future. Developmental errors seem to be a part of learning process (Harmer, 2003).

The teacher can evaluate their students’ written productions either using comments or the coding system. According to Harmer (2003), speaking like comments provide additional information about how well the student has written and demonstrate teacher’s concern about student’s progress. The students might be told to give written comments at the end of their own performances as well. However, they need to be absolutely clear about criterias for their own assessment.
Furthermore, the students benefit from written self–assessment because they feel much more involved in the teaching–learning process and can easier indicate their strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, it seems that students eagerly take advantage of teacher’s feedback.
Harmer (2003) reminds that the errors correction depends not only on students’ mistakes, but also on their written task. There is the teacher who is responsible for choosing the written activity and design of errors coding (Harmer, 2003).

To list all the problems connected with an accurate correction, Harmer (1998) adds that the teacher is faced with another difficulty – students’ handwriting. It is said that type of character could be recognized by looking at one’s handwriting. Some nationalities have different graphics signs from English ones. As a result, those students have to produce a piece of work in completely different writing system and at the same time overcome the limitations of a native system. As computers are becoming more popular in everyday usage printed papers are required and people pay less attention to their personal handwriting (Harmer, 1998).

However, there ere many situations in students’ lives when a handwriting style seems to be significant for instance during examinations. The teacher is expected to show students implications of illegible handwriting style. When students reconstruct shapes of letters they will feel more confident during writing tasks (Harmer, 1998).


Harmer, J. (1998). How to teach English: An introduction to the practice of English language teaching. Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

Harmer, J. (2003). The practice of English language teaching. Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

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