MLAL research seminar: Dr Anne-Marie Bezzina

MLAL research seminar: Dr Anne-Marie Bezzina

A MLAL research seminar will take place on Thursday 20th September at 14.00 in C1060:
 
 
Grammatical Difficulties in Foreign Language Writing: The Case of Maltese Learners of French as a Target Language 
 
Dr Anne-Marie Bezzina, Faculty of Education, University of Malta
 
 
 
Abstract: 
Maltese learners’ grammatical difficulties in a foreign language are explored within the context of the teaching and learning of the writing skill in French as a Foreign Language (FFL). An in-depth analysis of a corpus of 120 French essays provided by Year 10 and Year 11 students of FFL in six Maltese secondary schools provides an illustration of these difficulties. Grammatical errors in seven distinct grammatical categories (verbs, nouns, pronouns, conjunctions, adjectives, articles/determiners and prepositions) are counted, each category being divided into further sub-categories corresponding to specific types of errors (absence of the phenomenon, mistakes in its application, wrong positioning, etc.). Through statistical calculations, the more problematic grammatical points are identified. A descriptive analysis of the verb category serves to illustrate how learners’ difficulties manifest themselves in frequent errors.
 
A basic quantitative exercise is applied to the responses given by the 120 learner-informants in a brief questionnaire, in which they express their views on particular grammatical difficulties, as well as the more formal and personal aspects related to the process of learning the foreign language. Semi-structured interviews with Maltese teachers of FFL are analysed to discern main themes related to the teaching of grammar and writing from the teachers’ perspective. 
An interpretation is attempted of the possible sources of error: although learner motivation issues may partially account for the learners’ difficulties in writing, a linguistic explanation can be provided through grammatical performance lying within learners’ interlanguage (Selinker, 1972).