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According to the survey that I have done with two of my teachers, they admit it that most of their students do a lot of writing errors in their written work. I have asked them what their students' top five writing errors. Jamaliah Hamid has given the usage of tenses in the first place followed by choice of words, capitalization, spelling and sentence fragments (personal communication, November 1, 2012). While Marina Moslim has said that her first top five writing errors starts with the sentence fragments and then followed by spelling, verb errors, choice of words and parallelism (personal communication, November 3, 2012). Among all of these errors, I have shortlisted them into top five errors from both teachers.
The first error is the usage of tenses or can also be classified as verb errors. We all know that every sentence is determined by a tense to show the time. Every verb must agree with its subject which means if the doer is singular, the verb must be added an "s" at end word ("A verb must", n.d.). For instance, David drive his car to college everyday is wrong because drive should have come with an 's' to show that the subject is singular and this is a sentence in present tense . Unfortunately, when the sentence gets more complicated, we are more likely to make a mistake since it is confusing if we keep shifting from one tense to another. Especially, when there are few words in between the subject and object. Jamaliah Hamid claimed that this type of error is considered as grammatical errors since it is related to verbs and tenses (personal communication, November 1, 2012).
Besides that, wrong choice of words is also a writing error. This type of error is usually occurs when the writers use the word that sounds exactly the same as the other word but they give different meaning ("Word choice", n.d.). As an obvious example is using 'to' instead of 'too' in this sentence, He is to cute to resist. The sentence should be He is too cute to resist so the first 'to' is supposedly to be 'too' because it means 'in excess'. Next error is sentence fragment which is missing a subject or a predicate or sometimes both ("Sentence fragments", n.d.). Normally, sentence fragment occurs when a verb is missing, a subject is missing or the other relative pronouns, conjunctions or verbal phrases. As shown in this sentence, People who travel across the world a lot, the sentence is incomplete because it has a relative pronouns but the sentence is hanging. The sentence should be, People who travel around across the world a lot will have a problem with adjusting their sleep time.
The fourth error is choice of words. Marina Moslim argued that her students are mostly having a problem to choose the best word that fits in a sentence (personal communication, November 3, 2012). The misused of words can lead to the misinterpretation of the meaning of a sentence. This is also can be considered as writing errors because the students use the words that are not suitable. Other than that, spelling can also be an error especially when the word is a complicated word to spell and confusing the students. Spelling error is just an error of spelling a word for example in the sentence I can hardly breath, the word breath is a noun and in that sentence it is supposed to spell it as breathe because breathe is a verb.
During this interview, the teachers also have explained how they grade the errors in their students' written work. Jamaliah Hamid reported that she use the holistic method to grade her students' work (personal communication, November 1, 2012). Holistic method is a way of grading an essay by reading it as a whole. Jewell (2004) concludes that holistic scoring method is a quick and accurate technique of evaluating a paper according to the evaluation scale and the objective system. Similarly as Jamaliah, Marina also use the same method since the errors in an essay are judged entirely if there are too few errors or too many errors by giving credits or merits and not by counting the errors one by one ("Holistic grading", 2012). Individual features of a text, such as grammar, spelling, and organization are not analyzed as separate items ("Holistic grading", 2012). I believe both of the teachers use the same method because they want to save their time marking the students' works. This method can save time due to the way of marking the essay is practically just observe how many red-colored pen marks are there in the essay and not deducting the marks for every error committed.
In general, Jamaliah Hamid concluded that, grammar errors are actually the writing errors. She said that they have the same concept which means a grammar error is considered as writing error (personal communication, November 1, 2012). On the other hand, Marina Moslim agreed with Jamaliah but she said that some of the writing errors are not grammar errors. For instance, spelling error can also be grammar error or only considered as writing error depends on the word. In this sentence, I can breath easily, the word breath used is wrong because breath is a noun and breathe is the verb. This situation is considered as writing error and not as grammar error. Both of the teachers have their own perception in defining an error. Marina Moslim identified that grammar is the rule of the language which explains more about a sentence while Hamid states that writing error is also grammar error and vice versa (personal communication, November 3, 2012).
As a conclusion, Marina Moslim examined that every grammar error is a writing error but not every writing error is a grammar error. In contrast, Jamaliah Hamid found that all of the writing errors are also considered as grammar errors (personal communication, November 1, 2012). This survey that I have done shows that every teacher has their own point of view in grammar and writing errors. I personally agree with both of my teachers with their views on errors because I think grammar errors are definitely writing errors but some of the writing errors cannot be considered as writing errors since they are sometimes not related to the grammar itself. Usually the grammar is correct but some other parts of the sentence for example the word spelling or the punctuation usage is incorrect.