Correcting Mistakes

Error correction is a very important part of teaching a language. ESL teachers have to know when to correct mistakes and how to do it effectively. This article will teach you why students make mistakes, how to reflect on the types of mistakes that students make, and what you can do to help them improve. You will also find various links to other resources on error correction in the ESL classroom.

Why Do Students Make Mistakes?

Mistakes are a natural part of learning a language. Students make mistakes for several reasons. Here are some possibilities:

–          It is different from their native language

–          It is similar to their native language but not exactly the same

–          The students do not understand the rule

–          It is an exception to the rule

–          The students do not know, so they guess

When and How to Correct Mistakes

It is a good idea to have them reflect on the type of mistakes they make. This can also be done in pairs or groups. For example, in a speaking lesson, the teacher can take notes of the mistakes the students made while speaking. At the end of the speaking activity, the teacher can write the list above on the board and the mistakes they made so that  they can identify the type of mistake, and decide why they think they made it. This is a great opportunity to reflect on their learning process and remember the correct forms or uses of the language.

More Resources on Error Correction

The article Error Correction in TESOL explains that there is a difference between errors and mistakes, and it explains how to correct errors according to the student’s levels. The article Examining Underlying Beliefs explains that there are times when error correction is detrimental to student learning. Last, the article Fossilized Error Correction explains that there are some errors that non-native speakers make which are very difficult to eradicate, so teachers should consider when to work on these errors and when to move on.

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