Teach English in Wuyao Zhen - Nantong Shi

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How we should correct mistakes. I am going to break down all the various methods of correcting mistakes during ESL lessons. I believe this is one of the hardest skills to develop as a teacher and it takes a lot of time to perfect. How and when mistakes are corrected have a strong impact on the relationship between the student and the teacher. Too much correction can be off-putting and discouraging for students, however too little is unhelpful. It is important to find an equilibrium between correction and praise. In this piece of research, I am going to talk about the differences between mistakes and errors and about multiple types of corrections that can be made. I define the difference between an error and a mistake in the following way. A mistake is usually a slip of the tongue and students should be able to correct it themselves. The student will normally be aware of the correct form but will not always be able to produce it accurately when speaking or writing. An error is something slightly different, it is more rooted and can be habitual. There are a few reasons why an error can happen. Some examples are, the student does not know the rule or the correct form, the student thinks that their way is correct, or the student has an idea of what the correct form is but can’t get it right. There is no doubt that making errors is an unavoidable part of the learning process and it is important that teachers often remind students of this. Inevitably, teachers will have to correct many errors and keeping the student motivated will be challenging. However, there are positive sides to errors and we can remind students of these. When they make an error, it shows that they are trying hard, experimenting with the language, and are moving out of their comfort zone. Moreover, students will become more aware of their weaknesses and they will know what to focus on in order to improve. So, who can correct an error? There are three options. The first option is self-correction, this is when students correct themselves. In order to do this, students must be aware of where the error is in the sentence and what type of error it is. The second option is that another student makes the correction. However, this method should only be allowed if the teacher feels the student is at ease with a classmate doing this. It can be a great way of boosting rapport and morale in the class. The third and final option is the teacher corrects the student. This should usually be the last resort as the first two methods allow the students to identify the mistake on their own and this is a vital skill that they must develop. Ideally, students should be allowed sufficient time to correct themselves. Nevertheless, there are times when the teacher must make the correction. What errors to correct and when to correct them can present challenges for teachers. When the activity is focused on accuracy then corrections are more important than when the activity is focused on fluency. There are a few occasions when it is relevant and necessary to correct. A few examples are, when the error is being repeated regularly and there is a risk of it becoming ingrained, when the error is specific to the language task of the class, and finally, when the error prevents or impedes students’ understanding. When one of the above situations occurs, the teacher can indicate that there is a problem by repeating the sentence to the student in a questioning tone. This immediately gives the student an opportunity to self-correct. In addition, writing down more complex errors on a whiteboard allows all students to focus on them and the teacher can highlight exactly where the error is. A teacher’s timing when correcting an error is fundamental. They should try not to interrupt a student’s speech and instead wait until they have finished their sentence or speaking activity, whichever is the most appropriate. It is always important not to break the flow of the task. The scrutiny when it comes to correcting them can depend on the stage of the lesson. During an engage stage of a lesson, corrections should be kept to a minimum as communication is the main focus of the activity. However, during the study phase corrections are more appropriate because the students are learning new concepts and accuracy is more important. When correcting writing tasks, we can use a code method, an example is s/p in code can mean an incorrect use of singular and plural. This can be an effective method as it gives students an opportunity to correct their own work. For example, with advanced students, you can write the code in the margin on the corresponding line and they can try to work it out for themselves. Once again, this gives students more opportunities to develop their self-correction skills. To sum up, mistakes are inevitable, but they can develop and improve students’ abilities if handled appropriately. Teachers have to master the skill of correction and this comes with experience. I believe the best method is self-correction as this allows students to internalize the language. Moreover, if we can encourage and teach students to self-correct then they can start to correct themselves outside of the classroom and without the help of the teacher. Of course, there are many other techniques and ultimately, the best option is the most appropriate one for the situation.