An Analysis of Syntactic Errors Committed by Bemba-Speaking High School Pupils Learning French in Lusaka Province, Zambia

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Mukuka, Joseph
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This study examined syntactic errors committed by Bemba-speaking high school pupils learning french in the lusaka Province of Zambia. This was aimed at testing the theoretical position that first language (LI) and Second Language (L2) interfere with the learning of Third language (13). The study involved only pupils with Bemba as their mother tongue, English as their Second language and French as their third language.The corpus was obtained by administering two sets of research intruments: the questionnaire and written essays. The first set involved administering a survey questionnaire to 80 participants in ten high schools. The second set involved conducting a written test with the participants in order to identify syntactic errors that are committed by these pupils in French.Data were analysed through content analysis and descriptive statistics. Arising from the analysis, the study revealed four categories of syntactic errors most commonly encountered in the samples of Bemba-speaking high school pupils learning French in Lusaka Province. The four categories are: agreement (37%),word order (25%), coordination (22%) and sentence structure (16%)). English, at 67%,was found to be the more interfering language than Bemba, at 33%. The specific syntactic errors caused by the more interfering language related to agreement (43%), word order (34%)) and sentence structure (23%)). However, no coordination errors were recorded as resulting from interference from English. The study also revealed that the predominant source of errors is interlingual (57%) rather than intralingual (43%). The results suggest that both LI (Bemba) and L2 (English) interfere with the learning of French because pupils use some LI (Bemba) and L2 (English) structures to produce unacceptable L3 (French) constructions. This implies that these pupils use English more often than they do French and Bemba. One of the major recommendations made is that a larger scale study, beyond the scope of the present one, should be carried out to include other Zambian languages as well as language levels in order to establish a clearer picture of the L2 and LI interference phenomenon among learners of French in Zambia.
Syntatic Errors