An analysis of semantic errors in English compositions written by Japanese college students

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Hind, Jeanne E.
Ross, Janet, 1914-
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Thesis (M.A.)
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This thesis has analyzed 50 English compositions written by Japanese college students in order to determine some of the reasons for semantic errors which occur in the student themes. Five major categories of semantic errors were identified: (A) Semantically Wrong Choice of Lexical Items, (B) Omission of Words or Phrases Semantically Necessary, (C) Errors with the Structure of Phrases and Clauses, (D) Words Used in the Wrong Form Class, (E) Errors in Idiomatic Usage. From this analysis, it has been determined that the major cause of error was semantically wrong choice of lexical items, the choice of verbs, determiners, and P-words being particularly troublesome.This analysis also revealed that some of the causes for semantic errors were native language interference, differences in meaning distinctions and scopes of meaning in one language or the other, incomplete knowledge of grammatical and lexical restrictions of words, interference within English itself, and cultural interference. It was also evident that semantic errors related to the teaching methods used in most Japanese secondary schools. Reliance on the grammar-translation method in the junior high and senior high schools did not provide students with enough competence for them to write free compositions at the university level.Finally, this thesis offers brief suggestions on ways a teacher of EFL to Japanese students might teach some of these problem areas and improve the English writing ability of Japanese college level students.