Iranian EFL Learners' Written Grammatical Errors: Different Levels of Language Proficiency

Document Type : Research Paper


Department of English, Aliabad Katoul Branch, Islamic Azad University, Aliabad Katoul , Iran


Errors are one of the enigmatic parts in the process of foreign language (L2) learning as they are extremely versatile at each and every stage of the language learning proficiency. The present study, therefore, was an attempt to reveal Iranian EFL learners’ grammatical errors in writing at two levels of proficiency, namely lower intermediate and advanced, and then to investigate whether there was a relationship between the levels of EFL learners’ proficiency and the types of grammatical errors they committed in their scripts. The study was carried out at a private language institute in Gorgan, Iran. To this end, 60 female EFL learners (30 lower intermediate and 30 advanced females) whose age ranged between 13 and 17 participated in this study and wrote 150 word writing samples on a predetermined descriptive subject. The descriptive analyses of the data based on the scoring framework of the study demonstrated the types of grammatical errors at each level of proficiency. A Chi Square test was then run in SPSS Ver. 25 on the 16 common frequent error categories between both levels of proficiency, which verified the existence of a relationship between EFL learners’ levels of proficiency and the types of written grammatical errors they committed in their writing. The findings of the study might be of interest to EFL learners, EFL teachers, syllabus designers, and materials developers.


Abbasi, M., & Karimnia, A. (2011). An analysis of grammatical errors among Iranian translation students: Insights from interlanguage theory. European Journal of Social Sciences, 25(4), 535-536.
Alhaysony, M. (2012). An analysis of article errors among Saudi female EFL students: A case study. Asian Social Science, 8(12), 55-66.
Al-Hazzani, N., & Altalhab, S. (2018). Can explicit written corrective feedback develop grammatical and lexical accuracy of Saudi EFL learners? International Journal of Education & Literacy Studies, 6(4), 16-24.
Al-Khresheh, M. (2010). Interlingual interference in the English language word order structure of Jordanian EFL learners. European Journal of Social Sciences, 16(1), 105-116.
Allen, D., & Mills, A. (2014). The impact of second language proficiency in dyadic peer feedback. Language Teaching Research, 1-16.
Barzegar, M. (2013). Persian EFL students’ error analysis. Asian Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 4, 322-334.
Bataineh, R. F. (2005). Jordanian undergraduate EFL students' errors in the use of the indefinite article. Asian EFL Journal, 7(1), 56-76.
Beheshti, Z. (2015). Syntactic analysis of errors in Iranian EFL learners’ written productions. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research, 2(6), 1-12.
Bhela, B. (1999). Native language interference in learning a second language: Exploratory case studies of native language inference with target language usage. International Education Journal, 1(1), 22-31.
Bitchener, J. (2008). Evidence in support of written corrective feedback. Journal of Second Language Writing, 17, 102-118.
Bitchener, J., Young, S., & Cameron, D. (2005). The effect of different types of corrective feedback on ESL student writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 14, 191-205.
Bozorgian, H. (2012). The relationship between listening and other language skills in international English language testing system. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 2(4), 657-663.
Brown, H. D. (1980). Principles of language learning and teaching (4th edition). Pearson Education.
Brown, H. D. (1994). Teaching by principles: Interactive language teaching methodology. Prentice Hall Regents.
Brown, H. D. (2014). Principles of language learning and teaching (6th edition). Pearson Education.
Camilleri, G. (2004). Negative transfer in Maltese students' writing in English. Journal of Maltese Education Research, 2(1), 3-12.
Canale, M., & Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics, 1, 1-47.
Chan, A. Y. W. (2004). Syntactic transfer: Evidence from the interlanguage of Hong Kong Chinese ESL learners. The Modern Language Journal, 88(1), 56-74.
Chen, A. (2007). Discovering the appropriate writing procedures on basic college writing. Hsiuping Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 8, 83-100.
Chen, L.L. (2006). The effect of the use of L1 in a multimedia tutorial on grammar learning: An error analysis of Taiwanese beginning EFL learners’ English essays. The Asian EFL Journal Quarterly, 8(2), 76-110.
Corder, S.P. (1967). The significance of learner’s errors. IRAL, 5(4), 161-170.
Corder, S.P. (1974). Error analysis and remedial teaching. ERIC, 1-15.
Darus, S., & Ching, K. (2009). Common errors in written English essays of form one Chinese students: A case study. European Journal of Social Sciences 10(2), 242-253.
Ellis, R. (2003). Second language acquisition. Oxford University Press.
Ellis, R., & Barkhuizen, G. (2005). Analyzing learner language. Oxford University Press.
Ellis, R., Sheen, Y., Murakami, M., & Takashima, H. (2008). The effects of focused and unfocused written corrective feedback in an English as a foreign language context. System, 36(3), 353-371.
Farrokhi, F., & Sattarpour, S. (2011). The effects of focused and unfocused written corrective feedback on grammatical accuracy of Iranian EFL learners. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 12, 1797-1803.
Fati, M. (2013). The effect of English writing proficiency in the type and amount of errors produced by Moroccan EFL students. International Journal of Education and Research, 1 (9), 1-12.
Ferris, D. R. (2004). The ‘Grammar Correction’ debate in L2 writing: Where are we, and where do we go from here? (and what do we do in the meantime…?). Journal of Second Language Writing, 13, 49-62.
Ferris, D. R. (2010). Second language writing research and written corrective feedback in SLA. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 32, 181-201.
Ferris, D. R. (2011). Treatment of error in second language student writing. (2nd edition). University of Michigan Press.
Ferris, D. R., Roberts, B. (2001). Error feedback in L2 classes: How explicit does it need to be? Journal of Second Language Writing, 10, 161-184.
Huang, S.L. (2001). Error analysis and teaching Composition. Master Thesis. National Tsing Hua University.
Jie, X. (2008). Error theories and second language acquisition. US-China Foreign Language, 6(1), 35-42.
Kafipour, R., & Khojasteh. L. (2012). Comparative taxonomy of errors made by Iranian undergraduate learners of English. Canadian Social Science, 8(1), 18-24.
Keshavarz, M.H. (2012). Contrastive analysis and error analysis. Rahnama.
Khodabandeh, F. (2007). Analysis of students' errors: The case of headlines. The Asian ESP Journal, 3(1), 6-21.
Koosha, M., & Jafarpour, A. A. (2006). Data-driven learning and teaching collocation of prepositions: The case of Iranian EFL adult learners. Asian EFL Journal, 8(8), 200-216.
Nayernia, A. (2011). Writing errors, what they can tell a teacher? Modern Journal of Applied Linguistics, 3, 200-217.
Nezami, A., & Sadraie Najafi, M. (2012). Common error types of Iranian learners of English. English Language Teaching, 5(3), 160-170.
Rahmani, P., & Bagherzadeh Kasmani, M. (2012). Contrastive analysis: An investigation of error analysis of Kurdish and Persian speaking students majoring in translation (EFL). Asian Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities, 1(4), 56-60.
Richards, J. C., & Renandya, W.A. (2002). Methodology in language teaching: An anthology of current practice. Cambridge University Press.
Ridley, D. (2004). Puzzling experiences in higher education: Critical moments for conversation. Studies in Higher Education, 29(1), 91-107.
Rostami Abusaeedi, A.A., Boroomand, F. (2015). A quantitative analysis of Iranian EFL learners’ sources of written errors. International Journal of Research Studies in Language Learning, 4(1), 31-42.
Sadeghi, K. (2009). Collocational differences between L1 and L2: Implications for EFL learners and teachers. TESL Canada Journal, 26(2), 100-124.
Santos, T. (2000). On the future of second language writing: The EFL/ESL split. Journal of Second Language Writing, 9(1), 8-10. 
Sattari, A. (2012). An analysis of grammatical errors in Iranian students' English writings. Iranian EFL Journal, 8(2), 143-157.
Sattayatham, A., & Honsa, S. (2007). Medical students' most frequent errors at Mahidol University, Thailand. The Asian EFL Journal, 9(2), 170-194.
Sattayatham, A., & Ratanapinyowong, P. (2008). Analysis of errors in paragraph writing in English by first year medical students from the four medical schools at Mahidol University. Silpakorn University International Journal, 8, 17-38.
Schmidt, R. (1990). The role of consciousness in second language learning. Applied Linguistics, 11, 129- 158.
Schmidt, R. (2001). Attention. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Cognition and second language instruction (3-32). Cambridge University Press.
Seror, J. (2009).  Institutional forces and L2 writing feedback in higher education. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 66(2), 203-232.
Van Beuningen, C.G., De Jong, N.H., & Kuiken, F. (2012). Evidence on the effectiveness of comprehensive error correction in second language writing. Language Learning, 62(1), 1-41.
Wang, L. (2003). Switching to first language among writers with differing second-language proficiency. Journal of Second Language Writing, 12, 347-375.
Wang, W., & Wen, Q. (2002). L1 use in the L2 composing process: An exploratory study of 16 Chinese EFL writers. Journal of Second Language Writing, 11, 225-246.
Watcharapunyawong, S., Usaha, S. (2013). Thai EFL students’ writing errors in different text types: The interference of the first language. English Language Teaching, 6, 67-78.