Unit 31. Correcting Learners

Whenever me correct learners we do two different -but related- things: we show them they’ve made a language mistake, but at the same time we show them the grammatical form.

There are certain techniques that are used to correct oral mistakes. There are other techniques that are useful to correct written mistakes. We also distinguish among types of mistakes: errors, mistakes, slips of the tongue.

How can we correct oral mistakes?

1. Drawing a timeline.

Interesting fact. The timeline should be culturally acceptable: this means it should be meaningful. For example, did you know that the Chinese concept of time is a vertical one? the Mandarin word for before (past) is “up” and the word for after (future) is “down”. So whenever you use timelines to teach or correct mistakes, make sure your students share you cultural background.

2. Finger correction and Gestures or facial expressions

4. Phonemic symbols

5. Echo correcting

6. Identifying the mistake and have the students become aware of it.

7. Not correcting at the time the mistake was made in order to promote fluency.

8. Peer and self correction

9. Ignoring mistakes. We must not correct every single mistake students make. Remember making mistakes is part of developing their interlanguage.


How can we correct written mistakes?

1. Teacher correction

2. Peer correction

3. Self-correction

4. Ignoring the mistake

In the classroom, we use a mix of teacher correction, peer correction and self-correction. Sometimes correction is needed, sometimes it is enough just to indicate the students there is a mistake.

The technique we choose to correct depends on the type of mistake the student has made.

Some techniques are more suitable for certain types of mistake. For example, finger correction is usually done to correct oral mistakes.

Try using some different correction techniques in your classes.


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