Abstract: Inspired by recent research into second natural language acquisition, we investigated the systematic errors made by a large group of programming language students over a period of time. The major objective was to study the development of the students' knowledge. In this paper, we discuss one aspect of that development. The students had major difficulties with using the semicolon, the sequencing operator of the programming language ALGOL 68. We suggest that this is due to the fact that students did not immediately understand a specific simply stated rule of syntax, introduced in a decontextualised way, but rather that their understanding of the rule developed with their increasing experience of using it in different contexts.
PPIG 1990 - 2nd Annual Workshop
Using Systematic Errors to Investigate the Developing Knowledge of Programming Language Learners