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Volume 12 Number 4, Winter 2015, Pages 1-158 PDF Download

A Corpus-based Study of To-Infinitive Errors in Korean College Freshmen's Writing

    Jung Eun Kim, Isaiah WonHo Yoo

This study aims to investigate how accurately to-infinitives are used by Korean learners of English who have completed primary and secondary education in Korea. Data were retrieved from a learner corpus consisting of essays written by 815 incoming freshmen at a university in Seoul, Korea. Of the 2,309 tokens of to-infinitives from the corpus, only 171 tokens were found to be errors, a finding which suggests that Korean students with high-intermediate proficiency in English possess a firm understanding of the use of to-infinitives. In addition to those 171 error tokens, 65 tokens of omission errors were manually identified; of these 236 error tokens, substitution was the most common type of error (103 tokens, 43.6%), which was closely followed by omission errors (99 tokens, 42.0%). A close examination of all the errors revealed that several types of errors derive from the learner's lack of knowledge regarding subcategorization, i.e., information about selecting proper complementation types. Teachers should therefore provide L2 learners with detailed subcategorization information, especially when new verbs are introduced.

Keywords: written learner corpus, error analysis, to-infinitive, Korean college students