English spelling errors in Swedish high school : An investigation of English spelling errors among Swedish high school students and their possible causes

University essay from Högskolan i Gävle/Avdelningen för humaniora

Abstract: This study investigates spelling errors among Swedish students of English. The purpose of this research is to develop a better understanding of the causes of spelling errors and to investigate whether there are any differences between program orientation and gender. The participants are English A students from Swedish high schools in year 1. The data analysed in this study consists of essays written by the participants which have been gathered into the Uppsala Learner English Corpus (ULEC). The results showed that the academic program has a lower error rate when compared to the vocational program and that female students display a lower error frequency than male students. These results reflect the same pattern found by previous studies on achievement between the programs and across gender. However, when comparing all variables, both gender and program, the results demonstrate that academic male students had the lowest error rate of all groups, which could partially be explained by the fact that the academic male students have a higher level of engagement with video- and online games when compared to the other groups. The language processes that the participants found the most challenging were letter omission, letter insertion and letter substitution. These results follow the same pattern highlighted in previous studies on spelling among both native speakers and learners. Finally, the exchange between the vowels <a>, <e> and <i> was found to be a frequent error among the students. Experiencing difficulties with the correct usage of vowels can be explained as a transfer error.

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