Addressing the grammar needs of Chinese EAP students: an account of a CALL materials development project
This study investigated the grammar needs of Chinese EAP Foundation students and developed electronic self-access grammar materials for them. The research process consisted of three phases. In the first phase, a corpus linguistics based error analysis was conducted, in which 50 student essays were compiled and scrutinized for formal errors. A tagging system was specially devised and employed in the analysis. The EA results, together with an examination of Foundation tutors’ perceptions of error frequency and gravity led me to prioritise article errors for treatment; in the second phase, remedial materials were drafted based on the EA results and insights drawn from my investigations into four research areas (article pedagogy, SLA theory, grammar teaching approaches and CALL methodologies) and existing grammar materials; in the third phase, the materials were refined and evaluated for their effectiveness as a means of improving the Chinese Foundation students’ use of the article.\ud \ud Findings confirm the claim that L2 learner errors are systematic in nature and lend support to the value of Error Analysis. L1 transfer appears to be one of the main contributing factors in L2 errors. The salient errors identified in the Chinese Foundation corpus show that mismanagement of the article system is the most frequent cause of grammatical errors; Foundation tutors, however, perceive article errors to be neither frequent nor serious. An examination of existing materials reveals that the article is given low priority in ELT textbooks and treatments provided in pedagogical grammar books are inappropriate in terms of presentation, language and exercise types. The devised remedial materials employ both consciousness-raising activities and production exercises, using EAP language and authentic learner errors. Preliminary evaluation results suggest that the EA-informed customised materials have the potential to help learners to perform better in proofreading article errors in academic texts.
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