Corpus-based Analysis of Academic Writing Errors by First Year Tanzanian University Students: Cases from UDSM, SUA and TUICO

Gastor Mapunda, Safari T. A. Mafu


The study looked into errors committed by first year university students in three universities in Tanzania. While errors can be indicative of a developmental stage in the learning of a second language, ormal English language learning in Tanzania culminates at the secondary school level and, for some, at the university level. For many at the University level, a related subject is Communication Skills. As such, one would expect students at this level to learn advanced communication skills. Students‘ essays were analyzed, errors identified, and discussed. The findings show that, besides errors in writing skills in terms of the mechanics and logic, there were many other types of errors from improperly learnt structures, language transfer, and unclear expression. It is suggested here that something needs to be done regarding the content of curricula and pedagogical processes both in secondary and tertiary education. Since the errors made were from first year university students, they must have had their origin in secondary and primary schools where the students have come from. We are of the view that, when students come to the university, they should be subjected to screening to identify their communication skills problems so as to expose them to relevant remedial classes.


Key words: errors, language transfer, fuzzy expression, tertiary education 

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 [ISSN 0856-9965 (Print)]