Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Jeanne Simpson


Error analysis and modified contrastive analysis were used to examine what type of writing difficulties were common to a selected group of De La Salle University (Philippines) and Eastern Illinois University freshman students, and what the average length and range in variation of length of the essays were in each group. The essays analyzed in the study were descriptive, and written within a span of fifteen minutes.

The results of the analysis showed that De La Salle and Eastern Illinois students have the following major difficulties: syntax, spelling, agreement, the use of comma, and the use of the s marker. Minor writing problems for both schools are fragments, articles, punctuation, ambiguous reference of pronouns, omission of words, and capitalization. The study also revealed that prepositions, sentence shifts, and the ed marker were major problems to the Filipino students.

Both groups of students reflected an acceptable level of sentence maturity. The study showed that the average length of a T-unit for the Filipino students was 16.84 words, and for the EIU students, 15.16 words. The average length of a clause for the Filipinos was 9.77 words, and for the EIU students, 9.93. Analysis on the range of variation in length for both groups of students revealed that the American students had a wider range of syntactical modes than the Filipino students. Based on the results, three recommendations were made:

  1. That more intensive research be done on the nature, causes, prediction, and remediation of each of the major writing errors of the students.
  2. That further research be made to investigate whether the sentence maturity of the ESL students can really be compared with the sentence maturity of American students.
  3. That a larger but similar comparative study be made between senior DLSU and EIU students in order to arrive at more definitive conclusions on the writing skills of the students.