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Error Correction

The hows, whys, whats and whens of error correction in ELT

Christopher Thirlaway

on 7 May 2012

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Transcript of Error Correction

Error Correction
Image retrieved from: http://thingsihavelearnedinmylife.com/sentence/photography/mistakes-are-beginning-discovery
The what, why, when and how of error correction
Personal Reflection
1. Were you corrected at school?
2. How were you corrected?
3. What would be corrected - pronunciation, writing, grammar...?
4. How did you feel about the correction and why?
While studying English you will have made some mistakes. Think about your experiences and discuss the following questions with your partner:
Were the experiences discussed mainly
examples of language learning?
What impact did the manner of the feedback have on you as a learner?
The mistakes that learners make can, generally, be categorised into three different areas:
In his book 'How to teach English', Jeremy Harmer defines the three types of mistakes as....
Ask the experts:
Check out page 96
"mistakes which [students]
can't correct themselves
- and which therefore, need explanation".
"mistakes which students
can correct themselves
, once it has been pointed out to them..."
"mistakes that students make when they try to say something but
do not yet know how to say it
Why do mistakes occur?
Your ideas....
Some ideas:
L1 Interferance
False Analogy
Over learning
The teacher
Incomplete learning
5 key decisions to make when dealing with oral mistakes
Jim Scrivener: Learning Teaching (2011) p. 285
What kind of error
has been made?
Whether to deal with it
When to deal with it
Who will correct
Which technique to use
to indicate that an error has occurred or to enable correction.
Whether to deal with the mistake or not...
What criteria could you apply when deciding if to give immediate on the spot correction?
Accuracy x Fluency
What is the aim of your activity?
When to correct?
straight away
at the end of the activity
at the end of the lesson
next lesson
later in the course
Who corrects?
Who corrects?
Who corrects?
the teacher
small group
open class
coursebook/ reference material
Read the following examples of learner mistakes and decide, with your partner(s), on an efficient way of indicating what is wrong and how to correct it.
Adapted from: Learning Teaching, Jim Scrivener (2005) p. 302
1. I am boring with this lesson!
2. I took the sheep to Fernando de Noronha.
3. He brokened the car.
4. Did you went to the party last Saturday?
5. I pretend to go to university when I am older.
Some ideas:
Taken from: Learning Teaching, Jim Scrivener (2005) p300-301
State there is an error somewhere
Facial expressions (surprise, frown)
Finger correction
Repeat phrase up to error
Echo sentence with changed stress/ intonation
Ask a one word question
Write the sentence on the board
Use the phonemic chart
Feedback cards
How would you adapt these techniques to giving feedback on a piece of writing?
Can you think of other methods to giving feedback on writing?
Further Reading:
Learning Teaching, Jim Scrivener, Macmillan Books - Page 298+
How to Teach English, Jeremy Harmer, Pearson Longman - Page 96+
The Practice of English Language Teaching, Jeremy Harmer, Pearson Longman - Page 137+
Correction, Mark Bartram & Richard Walton, LTP Teacher Training
Online Resources
Below are the views of 3 different teachers. Read each opinion and decide which you agree with most. Then discuss your choice with your partner.

Errors need to be avoided at all costs. I don't want my learners to pick up bad habits.

Errors are a natural part of the learning process - and as teaching material they're really useful.

I feel bad correcting my students' errors - it's judgemental and de-motivating.
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