Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Jak poprawiać na lekcjach angielskiego, żeby nie bolało?

How often do we... teachers of English... have to correct our poor students during our classes? I bet it happens quite frequently... Well, at least, it should happen frequently... as ignoring our students' mistakes or errors is not a good way of teaching any language. Remember: "Silence gives consent".

Of course, mistakes made bu students is a good symptom of learning something, but uncorrected are pretty dangerous as they tend to fossilize over time, which is no good :)

The question is... How to correct students in such a way that they know there is a mistake and they immediately feel a strong desire :) to correct themselves as only such a way seems so natural?

Here are a few tips:

  1. Don't accept ill structured sentences, instead reward good answers!
  2. Make an I-don't-get-it face and wait for the student to correct himself/herself.
  3. Ask the rest of the group to spot the mistake and give you the correct answer!
  4. Refer to some unit in a coursebook where you talked about a particular grammatical or lexical problem and make students find the right response.
  5. Choose the best student in your group and ask her/him if he knows how to correct his/her friends utterance.
  6. Pose a general question to the class and ask for the correct way of saying something.
  7. Instead of making a strange face you can ask a direct question: "Sorry, but I don't understand you. I think there is a mistake in your sentence/question".
  8. Accept the incorrect utterance but repeat it in the correct way stressing the erroneous area.
What do you think? Got anything else to suggest?


  1. I can't agree with point no. 5. I mean, from my experience I can see that weak students would feel much worse if I asked a good student. It's better to give them a chance to correct themselves. You know, there are many many ways to direct them to the correct answer, to show them any analogies which would easily lead them to the victory- to the correct answer :)
    My way is very simply. I lead the discussion, I ask them questions, provoke them to speak. When they talk I note down all mistakes I find essential to explain. I mix them and write down on the blackboard. Then we correct them together. And, again, I try to show them similar structures in which they would never do such a mistake. Then, they are like "wow! how could I be so silly!".

    1. Asia... you might be right... it's a delicate issue... I agree. You need to be extremely sensitive not to demotivate or discourage other students in the group unless you all agree who 'the best to answer" is. You can actually ask your students to point at the person they consider 'legitimate' to be 'the best', then it's not your 'fault' :) The other strategy is you can choose a few 'best' students so that there's no teacher's pet. What do you think?

  2. And after evaluating writing tasks it's good to collect the mistakes and give students as a grammar exercise :)

  3. I entirely agree with you Asia. I would also think twice before asking better students to correct the weaker ones.
    Besides, there was vast international research conducted, studying error correction in language instruction (many languages were studied, not only eng). As far as I know, the outcome was astonishing even for the researchers. IT turned out that NO way of correcting improves students' command of the langauge. no matter which way of correcting ( direct, indirect, more or less subtle) a teacher uses, it doesn't work. it is more for the comfort of the teacher who just trembles and sweats if they hear ''she don't like ...''
    I'm not saying that we shoul let them speak incorrectly, but correcting should be done afterwards. I never interrupt my students even if they make many mistakes, for them it's better to build up their confidence and fluence, then work on correctness. It's like with small kids. they start talking extremely fluent before adults are able to make out anything of what thay are trying to explain :)

    1. Thank you Czesuawa! I guess I have some doubts about the results of the research you mentioned. From my own experience I can say it's good to correct students for they really make a note of where mistakes are often made and they do tend to refer back to those moments where we actually were correcting the most frequently committed mistakes. Could you share the reference to the research you mentioned, please?


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