Language errors in an English-medium instruction university setting: How do language versus content teachers tackle them?

Porta Linguarum

Since attention to content usually prevails over language matters in English-medium classes at university level, there are relatively few studies dealing with the content teachers’ position on language issues. This is why the present study intends to (i) compare the content and language teacher’s position regarding errors in students’ written work; (ii) identify the most frequent errors in the students’ essays; and (iii) determine whether there is a correlation between the mark assigned by the content teacher and the number/ type of errors the language teacher comes across. In order to address these issues, we analysed 20 essays produced by students who were taking “World economic history” at the University of the Basque Country and compared the corrections made by the content and the language teachers. The results confirmed that the content teacher’s and the language teachers’ position with respect to language differs significantly, that grammar errors are the most frequent errors, and that there is no correlation between the number of errors and mark awarded for the essays. We believe that comparing language and content teachers’ approaches to error correction may shed light on how we can improve students’ writing skills.