Common errors in writing journals of the englishmajor students at ho chi minh city open university

Students’ writing problems are always a primary concern of instructors in writing

classrooms, and to know the common errors which frequently occur on students’ writing papers

is usually what the writing instructors have conducted in the classrooms. However, no research

study has been conducted at the Faculty of Foreign languages at HCMC Open University to

investigate into this aspect. The purpose of the current study is to investigate the common written

errors on students’ writing journals and to see whether the extensive writing helps enhance

students’ writing fluency. 115 first year English-major students participated in this study. They

composed five writing journals every week during the course of 15 weeks. Each student

composed 62 writing journals in total. The study found that four most common errors frequently

occur in students’ writing journals are relating to tenses, collocations, spellings, and verb forms.

Also, the current study confirms that the extensive writing practices effect the students’ writing

fluency in terms of length of writing. The results of the study help the writing instructors at the

local setting with the facts of their students’ writing problems in order to improve the writing

practices in the writing classrooms. Particularly, the finding of this study confirms the effects of

extensive writing so that the instructors and students could take this issue into their practices

beyond the classrooms.

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8 79 Journal 57 98 44 
66 Journal of Science Ho Chi Minh City Open University – No. 2(14) 2015 – June/2015 
N1 Mean S.D. N2 Mean S.D. 
Journal 6 90 58 Journal 58 100 52 
Journal 7 88 51 Journal 59 97 46 
Journal 8 86 45 Journal 60 96 43 
Journal 9 84 42 Journal 61 99 53 
Journal 10 83 37 Journal 62 101 53 
* N1 refers to the first 10 journals 
* N2 refers to the last 10 journals 
* Descriptive statistics 
As can be seen in the table 3, the means 
of journals 1 to 10 were between 79 and 90 
while those of the journals 53 to 62 were 
between 96 and 102. Table 4 presents the 
students’ differences in writing fluency. 
Table 4. Students’ differences in writing fluency Paired Samples Statistics 
 Mean N Std. Deviation 
Std. Error 
Pair 1 first 846.83 115.00 352.26 32.85 
last 985.90 115.00 356.35 33.23 
Paired Samples Correlations 
 N Correlation Sig. 
Pair 1 first & last 115 .478 .000 
Paired Samples Test 
Paired Differences 
t df 
(2-tailed) Mean 
95% Confidence Interval 
of the Difference 
Lower Upper 
Pair 1 first-last -139.07 362.13 33.77 -205.97 -72.17 -4.12 114.00 0.00 
As can be seen from the table 4, the 
mean scores of the students’ first 10 writing 
journals was of 846.83 and that of the last 10 
journals was of 985.90. The correlation was 
of .478. The Sig. (2-tailed) reached at .00. This 
indicates that the students’ writing journals 
affect students’ writing fluency in term the 
numbers of words in their writing. The length 
of their journals improved by numbers of 
journals that the students committed to their 
writing activities. In other words, the more the 
students write, the more fluent in writing skills 
they become. According to Heder and King 
(2012), giving students extensive writing 
during the writing course will help students 
improve their confidence, speed, fluency and 
interest in learning English. Hyland (2002) 
states that teaching writing is a process and the 
instructors should let the students write and 
encourage them to write as much as possible. 
This might help students’ improve their 
writing fluency and quality. 
 Common Errors In Writing Journals Of The English-Major Students  67 
The findings of the present study 
correspond to Luu Trong Tuan (2010) who 
found that journal writing as an extensive 
activity is to foster learners' writing motivation 
and enhance their writing skill as well as to 
build a close bonding between teachers and 
learners. Furthermore, Homstad and Thorson 
(1996) confirm the importance of writing 
journals when stating that weekly writing 
journals strengthen writing skills and may also 
enhance critical thinking and cultural 
interaction. The findings of the present study 
and the literature discussed above indicate that 
the writing journals are beneficial activity and 
should take into account to encourage students 
to writing English. As a saying goes, “practice 
makes perfect”. The writing journal activities 
may bring EFL students no longer frustrating 
and difficult attitudes towards writing a 
foreign language (Homstad & Thorson, 1996). 
Bacha (2002) suggests that the writing 
lecturers should give the opportunities for 
students to practice writing regularly because 
the experience in writing practice was not only 
a very highly motivating basis for developing 
students’ writing skills but also a valuable one 
for students in acquiring necessary academic 
research know-how. 
5. Conclusion 
Firstly, the study reveals the most 
frequent types of errors the students made in 
both lexical errors and syntactic error. The 
results of the study help clarify what the 
students’ learning difficulties are for the 
writing instructors. Secondly, the study also 
indicates that the students’ writing journals 
affect students’ writing fluency. The length of 
their journals improved by numbers of journals 
that the students wrote during course. In other 
words, the more the students write, the more 
fluent in expressing ideas they become. 
Making errors is inevitable in language 
learning process. Clarifying errors keeps the 
teachers informed what aspects need further 
attention in the training process. 
The results of this study highlight certain 
issues regarding teaching and learning writing 
in English as a second/foreign language. 
Teachers/educators in similar situations may 
utilize those results to enhance the teaching 
and learning of L2 writing. Firstly, language 
interference should be taken into consideration 
during writing classes as the use of L1 which 
might affect writing performance in L2. 
Teacher/peer feedback should be applied 
during the writing activities to help students 
learn from each other to enhance writing 
quality. Teachers should offer students 
opportunities for sufficient amount of writing 
Although the researcher has made great 
efforts to carry out the study, the study has got 
certain restrictions. Firstly, the study just 
collected papers from 115 students of Writing-
1 courses out of 363 in HCMC Open 
University for error analysis. There should be 
further investigation to most of the students in 
three writing levels such as Writings 1, 2, & 3 
so that the findings will be strengthened for 
generalization. Secondly, the data for analyses 
were journals which were collected from 
students’ writing assigned by only one 
instructor for 3 classes. This seems not to be in 
the normal curriculum. Moreover, the 
instructor didn’t correct students’ journals so 
the quality was not measured. There should be 
research investigating the quality of students 
writing in the control of peer/teacher feedback 
to see if the students’ writing quality improves 
in the extensive writing practice. 
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