Teach English in Dazonghu Zhen - Yancheng Shi

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First of all, it is important to mention that mistakes play a significant role in every learning process. Mistakes are natural and sometimes even necessary. As someone said, if there is no any mistake that means, one doesn’t do or learn anything at all. Moreover, mistakes are helpful during the learning process. They can be a very positive aspect of learning. They can show a particular student some neglect areas which he or she needs to improve, develop. Furthermore, mistakes show a teacher that learning is taking place and that learners are taking risks with the language. Mistakes can also show a teacher that there is might be something wrong with a teaching methodology or technique or it doesn’t suit the student’s learning style etc. Mistakes are often categorized into two main groups: errors and slips. Let us look at slips first. Slips occur when students don’t focus on what they are saying or writing, or when they are disturbed by something or somebody. Slips are also results of tiredness, worry or other temporary emotions or circumstances. This type of mistakes can be corrected learners themselves, once they realize they have made them. Slips are not serious mistakes by their nature, but they can sometimes show a teacher that some areas (grammar points or vocabulary set) should be repeated to make students feel more confident and fluent in it. Talking about errors, they usually occur when a student try to say something that is beyond his/her current level of knowledge. Students cannot correct errors themselves because they don’t understand what is wrong and what exactly should be corrected. There are two main reasons for making errors: 1. The first language (L1) interference – is influence on the second language (L2, target language). It is a natural process because students tend to compare the L2 with the L1 (their mother tongue) during the learning process. For example, the word order in a sentence in the Russian language might be different depending on the function and manner of a speaker, meanwhile, the word order in an English sentence is strictly defined for positive, negative and question sentences. 2. Developmental errors – are common to all learners as a result of overgeneralization. For example, “I goed” instead of “I went”. These errors disappear when learners develop their L2 abilities and knowledge. It is very useful for every teacher to identify and categorize learners’ mistakes. Teachers might identify common mistakes made by majority of students, or focus on mistakes made by individual students. Teachers should use the knowledge about the categorizations of mistakes and their reasons when they plan lessons whether it is individual lesson or a sequence of lessons, to make sure they focus on the problems that students have, and help them develop ways to improve. As I said before, mistakes are a natural part of learning and they are necessary and important particularly in language learning. What about the correction? Should a teacher correct every single error or slip made by a student? Or should a teacher correct only serious mistakes which influence on the meaning or a context of speech or a text? Let us think about these questions below. Some experts say that correction may only help learners if they are ready for it. Teachers need to think carefully about what, how and when they correct. The main fault of a teacher is the correction of all the mistakes made by students. If that happens, learners can lose motivation and as a result in the future they can avoid speaking or writing activities at all. Also, students become anxious and more unwilling to take risks and this can have a negative effect on their learning. Firstly, it is useful to think about what kind of mistake a learner is making – a slip or an error. If the mistake is a slip – the learner can correct it him/herself (self-correction). This can be the case with a little prompt from a teacher or even another student (peer-correction). There even may be no point in correcting a slip because the correction can interrupt a learner and affect his/her fluency and a flow of thoughts. If a student is making an error it is very important to not interrupt him/her during the speaking but correct after they have finished it. It is always a good idea to use a white board, some schemes, mime, other students’ help, or ask a student who has made a mistake questions like: «Are you sure about the verb, structure?” etc. Whichever technique of the correction teachers choose they must always be sure that they correct politely, without offending a student, without humiliating him/her in front of the other students. At the same time the correction should motivate and encourage students to speak or write again, taking risks and experimenting with the language being studied. Besides, sometimes it is a wise decision to just ignore mistakes in language points which students haven’t studied yet because they can be confused and even discouraged. In conclusion, I can say that mistakes are a necessary part of every learning process and we cannot and shouldn’t avoid them. Mistakes help students to grow and develop. In a similar way, mistakes help teachers to see students progress, plan lessons more effectively, focus on students needs, motivate students, and analyze the whole teaching and learning process.