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Analysis of expression errors in the writings of primary school students in terms of certain variables.

The basic aim of mother tongue education is to enable students to understand what they read or listen to accurately and to express their thought, feelings and wishes efficiently. In this study, expression errors in the writings of primary school 8th grade students in terms of gender and location variables. For this purpose, a writing study was conducted on 100 students in 3 primary schools in the city of Kutahya in order to establish what the major errors expression errors arise from are, and their writings were analyzed to determine the types and number of expression errors in them. According to the results obtained in the study, it was seen that expression errors arising from grammar and semantics errors differentiated depending on gender and location.

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Language is the most important tool we use to express our thoughts. According to Aksan [1] language is a versatile, developed system that enables thoughts, feelings and wishes to be expressed by means of common elements and rules in a society in terms of sound and action. As can be understood from these explanations, language is a tool for communication in which there are two elements; namely, to express and to understand. The former is the expression of the thoughts, while the latter is the conclusion derived from the expression of the thoughts.

Expression occurs either orally or written. Karakufl [2] defines written expression as such: Written expression is the transformation of feelings, thoughts, wishes, dreams, desires, what is known, seen, read and heard into words eloquently and efficiently.

Writing is a way of expressing communication; expressing our thoughts, feelings, plans and experience. It is a basic language skill to be mastered in order for the language to develop. This skill is required for an individual to meet his daily needs, to carry on with his education, to be successful in life and to become a person who understands and is understood by people by improving his/her understanding and expression skills.

Writing is determined by transforming thoughts into words, words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs. Words are symbols that express our feelings, thoughts, objects and concepts that belong to our world. However, words are not sufficient on their own to express our feelings, thoughts, judgments and actions; we need sentences to make them meaningful. In this sense, a sentence is the basic unit of expression.

Every sentence is built to convey a thought or a feeling. While building a sentence, we determine our thoughts, arrange them, choose the right words and put them into the right order. The efficiency and accuracy of the expression depend on the clarity, accuracy and understandability of the sentence. According to Karaali [3], a well-structured sentence has the characteristics of accuracy, clarity, simplicity and fluency. Expression errors make a sentence intricate and ambiguous. In various works [4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10] situations resulting in expression errors are presented as follows:

Expression errors arising from grammar errors; missing subject, active-passive disagreement among verbs, clause errors, missing adverbial clause of place, missing object, missing verb or auxiliary, phrase errors, subject-verb disagreement and punctuation errors.

Expression errors arising from semantics errors; unnecessarily used words, conflicting words used together, confusing words, using words in the wrong place, idioms and proverb errors, repetition and logical errors.

Complete and accurate understanding can be ensured by doing away with expression errors. Knowing what errors students usually make can be considered as the first step to correct them. This study came about from this reality

This study aims to compare the common expression errors (arising from grammar and semantics errors) in terms of gender and location by determining the awareness of primary school 8th grade students about their expression errors and the level of their making use of this awareness in writing.

Method

Research Models

General survey method was used in order to present the current situation as it was in the study which researched whether there was a significant difference among the writings of primary school 8th grade students in expression errors in terms of such variables as gender and location. As stated by Karasar [11], survey methods are such that try to depict a situation in the past or today as it is.

Participants

The population of the study was composed of 8th grade students at Yildirim Beyazit, Altintafl Kemal Pafla and Termik Kopruoren Primary Schools of the city of Kutahya. The sampling was chosen randomly as 100 students, 51 of whom were from Yildirim Beyazlt Primary School, 17 of whom were from Altintafl Kemal Pafla Primary School and 32 of whom were from Termik Kopruoren Primary School.

Data Collection Instruments

Data Collection Instruments were Demographic Data Form and Writing Evaluation Scale. Demographic Data Form was prepared so as to collect demographic data about the participants. The students in the sampling were made to write compositions to determine the expression errors and what they mostly arose from. So as to let the students express themselves freely, a creative writing study was conducted. The subject was chosen by the researchers as a story about what happened to a little cat on the street on a cold winter day. The papers were evaluated via Writing Evaluation Scale.

Data Analysis

In the analysis of the data collected through data collection instrument, the compositions of the students were analyzed and their expression errors were determined. The analysis was carried out through descriptive statistical and content analysis. The types and numbers of expression errors belonging to each student was noted down. The data acquired through statistical analysis were put into tables and then they were interpreted from those tables.

Results & Discussion

The evaluation of the papers was conducted on the scales on the basis of expression errors arising from grammar errors and semantics errors.

Table 1 shows that 86,5% of the expression errors arising from missing subject were made by the female, while 13,5% of them were made by the male students; that 88,8% of the expression errors arising from missing adverbial clause of place were made by the female, while 11,2% of them were made by the male students; that 60,0% of the expression errors arising from phrase errors were made by the female, while 40,0% of them were made by the male students; and that 66,7% of the expression errors arising from subject-verb disagreement were made by the female, while 33,3% of them were made by the male students. These results reveal that there is a significant difference in favor of male students in expression errors arising from missing subject, missing adverbial clause of place, phrase errors and subject-verb disagreement. The fact that 50,0% of the expression errors arising from active-passive disagreement were made by the female, while 50,0% of them were made by the male students shows that there isn't a significant difference between genders. Students didn't make any expression errors arising from missing verb or auxiliary and punctuation errors.

It is really interesting to note that, contrary to previous studies [12, 13], male students made fewer errors in grammar. Similarly, Avc> [14] had found significant differences in favor of female students in expression errors arising from missing verb or auxiliary, subject-verb disagreement and missing objects and adverbial clause of place. H>zl> [15], on the other hand, stated that there isn't a significant difference between the grammar-based expression errors of female and male students in their writings. As well as the others above, this result also conflicts with the findings of the study, which might have resulted from the quality of the students. As seen above, the errors of the participants are generally at a low level, which might be considered as a promising indicator of the fact that not everything goes wrong in education.

Table 2 shows that 80,0% of the expression errors arising from using words in the wrong place were made by the female, while 20,0% of them were made by the male students. Accordingly, there is a significant difference in favor of male students in expression errors arising from using words in the wrong place and repetition. 81,8% of the expression errors arising from repetition were made by the female, while 18,2% of them were made by the male students. Accordingly, there is a significant difference in favor of male students in expression errors arising from repetition. 59,3% of the expression errors arising from unnecessarily used words were made by the female, while 40,7% of them were made by the male students. Accordingly, there is no significant difference between genders in expression errors arising from unnecessarily used words. 59,6% of the expression errors arising from logical errors were made by the female, while 40,4% of them were made by the male students. Accordingly, there is no significant difference between genders in expression errors arising from logical errors. Students didn't make any expression errors arising from conflicting words used together, confusing words, and idioms and proverb errors.

Hizli [15] concluded that male and female students mostly made expression errors arising from such semantics errors as unnecessarily used words, logical errors and using words in the wrong place. Avc> [14], on the other hand, determined that there are significant differences in favor of female students in expression errors arising from using words in the wrong place, confusing words and repetition. However, both conclusions aren't in line with the findings of the study.

As in grammar, female students were less successful in semantics errors as well than male students, but the interesting point here is that students generally made more errors in semantics than in grammar, which might be indicating that students pay more attention to form than content. However, this might also be due to the education system. As is known, the traditional conception is product-based writing oriented. Since students haven't developed a concrete reading habit, they struggle in grasping what they read.

When expression errors arising from grammar errors are analyzed according to location, it is seen that 66,8% of the expression errors arising from missing subject were made by the students in the city, while 16,7% of them were made by those in the town and 16,7% were made by those in the village. Accordingly, there is a significant difference in favor of the students in the town and the village. 50,0% of the expression errors arising from active-passive disagreement were made by the students in the city, while 25,0% of them were made by those in the town and 25,0% were made by those in the village. Again, there is a significant difference in favor of the students in the town and the village. 51,6% of the expression errors arising from missing adverbial clause of time were made by the students in the city, while 9,7% of them were made by those in the town and 38,7% were made by those in the village, which reveals a significant difference in favor of students in the town. 81,8% of the expression errors arising from subject-verb disagreement were made by the students in the city, while 18,2% of them were made by those in the town; however, those in the village didn't make any expression errors arising from subject-verb disagreement and this shows a significant difference in favor of them. 30,0% of the expression errors arising from missing object were made by the students in the city, while 19,2% of them were made by those in the town and 50,8% were made by those in the village. This shows a significant difference in favor of students in the city and the town. Students didn't make any expression errors arising from missing verb or auxiliary and punctuation errors.

Teachers stated that most of the students didn't have adequate language skills and had difficulty in grasping tenses, modals, gerunds and infinitives, and punctuation; besides, they also added that they couldn't spare enough time for grammar studies in Turkish lessons [16]. It can be argued that this finding is in line with this study; however, Bayram and Erdemir [17] came up with a different result. According to their study, students mostly made errors in "that clause", after which came correction mark, question suffix, spelling of auxiliary used for "too, also" and spelling of certain words, but in this study, no punctuation errors were done. Especially almost half of the students in the city made expression errors arising from grammar. Although the fact that those in the city appeared more unsuccessful than those in the town and the village wasn't expected, it might have occurred due to such factors as students themselves, their teachers, parents or the environment.

Table 4 shows that 58,0% of the expression errors arising from using unnecessary words were made by the students in the city, while 18,5% of them were made by those in the town and 23,5% were made by those in the village, which means that there is a significant difference in favor of students in the town and the village. 27,3% of the expression errors arising from repetition were made by the students in the city, while 9,1% of them were made by those in the town and 63,6% were made by those in the village, which also means that there is a significant difference in favor of students in the town and the village. There isn't a significant difference in the expression errors arising from using words in the wrong place and logical errors. There weren't any expression errors arising from conflicting words used together, confusing words, and idioms and proverb errors.

Conclusions

The results of the study in which expression errors in the writings of primary school 8th grade students were analyzed in terms of gender and location variables can be presented in two groups:

* In terms of gender variable, the students made expression errors arising from such grammatical errors as missing verb or auxiliary and punctuation errors. It was the female students who made more expression errors arising from missing subject, missing object, phrase errors and subject-verb disagreement. The students made expression errors arising from such semantics errors as conflicting words used together, confusing words, and idioms and proverb errors. There is a significant difference in favor of male students in expression errors arising from repetition. There isn't a significant different between genders in expression errors arising from unnecessarily used words and logical errors.

* In terms of location variable, the students didn't make any expression errors arising from such grammatical errors as missing verb or auxiliary and punctuation errors. There is a significant difference in favor of students in the town and the village in expression errors arising from missing subject, active-passive disagreements and subject-verb disagreement. The students didn't make any expression errors arising from such semantics errors as conflicting words used together, confusing words, and idioms and proverb errors. There is a significant difference in favor of students in the town and the village in expression errors arising from using unnecessary words. Besides, there is also a significant difference in favor of students in the town and the village in expression errors arising from repetition, but there isn't a significant difference in expression errors arising from using words in the wrong place and logical errors.

Implications

Writing skill is primarily a matter of interpreting. Therefore, the first requirement is to enable students to build up enough information and experience, which can only be achieved by "reading habit".

Gaining a skill is also a matter of practicing. Therefore, students could be exposed to writing practices from the early stages of primary school education.

It can by no means be argued that short answers and test technique is beneficial to improve writing skills. Therefore, these activities should be reinforced with opportunities for students to express their feelings and thoughts.

One of the most challenging topics for students is their own world/life. Therefore, the immediate environment and lives of the students might be useful as topics.

Another crucial point in writing is sharing and publishing. For this purpose, the products of successful students could be published at school or on the local media and even be awarded in writing competitions at school, which will be a great reinforcement for the students.

While presenting grammar which students already have difficulty in grasping, teachers should make use of more examples for consolidation.

Students who struggle in writing could be encouraged by pointing out the positive aspects of their writing.

References

Aksan, D. (2000). Her yonuyle dil: Ana cizgileriyle dilbilim, Language from every point of wiev: Linguistics with main line, Ankara: TDK Publications

Aksoy, O. A. (1985). Yine dil yanlislari>, Repeatedly language errors, Ankara: Ogretmen Publications

Aktas, S. & Gunduz, O. (2005). Yazili ve sozlu anlatim, Writing and speaking, Ankara: Akcag Publications

Arici, A. F. (2005). Ilkogretim Okullarmda Dil Bilgisi Ogretimi Uzerine Ogretmen Gorusleri., Teachers' views on grammar teaching the elementary schools', KKEFD. 12:52-60

Avci, E. (2006), Ilkogretim Sekizinci Sinif Ogrencilerinin Yaptiklari Yazili Anlatim YanIislarinin incelenmesi (Mugla ili Ornegi). Mistakes that elementary school students make in writing are examined, Unpublished master thesis, Ankara University

Bayram, Y. ve Erdemir, A. (2006). Amasya'daki ilkogretim ikinci Kademe Ogrencilerinin imla Kurallarin> Kullanma Duzeyleri Uzerine Bir Degerlendirme, An evaluation of Amasya secondary school students' use of punctuation rules, Milli Egitim Dergisi, 171:140-155

Bilgin, M. (2002). Anlamdan anlatima Turkcemiz, Our Turkish language from meaning to expression, Ankara: T.C Kultur Bakanligi Publications

Ceviksoy, O. (1993). Turk dili ve edebiyati kompozisyon 2. Turkish language and composition 2, Istanbul: Serhat Yaymcilik

Cocuk Vakfi. (2006). Turkiye'nin Okuma Aliskanligi Karnesi, The report of Turkey's reading habitc, Istanbul: Cocuk Vakfi Publications

Hizh, G. (2004). Anlatim Bozukluklarinin Duzeltilmesinde Geribildirimin Etkisi., The influence of feedback on the correction of expression errors, Unpublished master thesis, Afyon Kocatepe University

Karaalioglu, S. K. (1995). Kompozisyon sanati, Composition art, Istanbul: Inkilap Publications

Karakus, I. (2002). Turkce, Turk dili ve edebiyati ogretimi, Turkish, Turkish language and literature teaching, Ankara: Anittepe Publications

Karasar, N. (1999). Bilimsel arafltirma yontemi, Scientific research method, Ankara: Nobel Publications

Kavcar, C., Oguzkan, F., & Aksoy, O. (2003). Yazih ve sozlu anlatim. Writing and speaking, Istanbul: Am Publications

Mullis, I. V., Martin, M. O., Gonzales, E. J., Kennedy, A. N. (2003). PIRLS 2001 International Report. Boston: International Study Center

Olgun, Y. (1996). Turk dili kompozisyon, Turkish language composition, Istanbul: Alfa Publications

Pacacioglu, B. (1997). Turk dili ve kompozisyon, Turkish language and composition, Sivas: Dilek Publications

SUAT UNGAN

Department of Turkish Language Teaching, Faculty of Education, Dumlupinar

University, Kutahya, Turkey
Table 1: Expression errors of male and female students arising
from grammar errors

Expression errors from Female Male Total
grammar errors
 f % F %

Missing subject 12 86,5 2 13,5 14

Active-passive disagreement 2 50,0 2 50,0 4
among verbs

Punctuation errors -- -- -- -- --

Missing adverbial clause of 24 88,8 3 11,2 27
place

Missing object 18 81,7 3 14,3 21

Missing verb or auxiliary, -- -- -- -- --
phrase errors

Phrase errors 12 60,0 8 40,0 20

Subject-verb disagreement 4 66,7 2 33,3 6

Table 2: Expression errors of male and female students arising from
semantics errors

Expression errors from semantics Female Merle Total
errors
 f % f %

Unnecessarily used words, 32 59,3 22 40,7 54

Conflicting words used together -- -- -- -- --

Confusing words, -- -- -- -- --

Using words in the wrong place 32 80,0 8 20,0 40

Idioms and proverb errors -- -- -- -- --

Repetition 9 81,8 2 18,2 11

Logical errors. 34 59,9 23 40,4 57

Table 3: Expression errors arising from grammar errors according
to location

Expression errors City Town Village Total
from grammar
errors
 f % f % f % f

Missing subject 12 66,8 3 16,6 3 16,6 18

Active-passive 2 50,0 1 25,0 1 25,0 4
disagreement
among verbs

Missing adverbial 16 51,6 3 9,7 12 38,7
clause of place 31

Missing object 8 30,0 5 19,2 13 50,0 26

Missing verb or -- -- -- -- -- -- --
auxiliary, phrase
errors

Phrase errors 9 42,9 1 4,8 11 52,3 21

Subject-verb 9 81,8 2 18,2 -- -- 11
disagreement

Punctuation errors -- -- -- -- -- -- --

Table 4: Expression errors arising from semantics errors according
to location

Expression errors from City Town Village Total
semantics errors
 F % f % f % f

Unnecessarily used 31 58,0 10 18,5 13 23,5 54
words,

Logical errors 28 49,1 9 15,8 20 35,1 57

Conflicting words used -- -- -- -- -- -- --
together

Confusing words, -- -- -- -- -- -- --

Using words in the 15 37,5 9 22,5 16 40,0 40
wrong place

Idioms and proverb -- -- -- -- -- -- --
errors

Repetition 3 27,3 1 9,1 7 63,6 11
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Author:Ungan, Suat
Publication:Reading Improvement
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:7TURK
Date:Dec 22, 2008
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