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Correction Techniques

VERBAL CORRECTION TECHNIQUES TO ELICIT SELF-CORRECTION

Indicate an error without specifying where or what kind of error.


Example:
S: The salesmen wasnt allowed to attend.
I: Almost. Try again.
S: The salesmen werent allowed to attend.

Indicate to the student where the error is by repeating the students sentence up to the point
of the error.
Example:
S: I normally get up at 7 on the morning
I: You normally get up at 7 ..
S: I normally get up at 7 in the morning

Ask a question focusing on the meaning of the grammar point that is relevant for the student to
be aware of so that they can correct themselves.
Example:

S: The customer which gave it to me called later


I: Your customer is a person, right?
S: Yes.
I: So
S: The customer who gave it to me called later
Example:
S: We have spoken about this last week.
I: Is last week finished?
S: Yes.
I: Ok try again.
S: We spoke about this last week.

Ask a question incorporating the correction to see if your student automatically self corrects.
Example:
S: I know him for about 20 years now.
I: How long have you known him?
S: I have known him for about 20 years.

Form a similar sentence with the correct from and then ask your student to repeat their
sentence.
Example:
S: Andrew do not went to the trade show.
I: Last weekend I was supposed to go shopping with a friend but she was ill so we didnt go
shopping. What did you say about Andrew?
S: He didnt go to the trade show.
Example:
S: Ive went to Singapore this year.
I: Ive been to Hong Kong this year. What about you?

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Direct the student explicitly to make the correction
Example:
S: I usually meet in the morning my colleagues.
I: Put the time phrase at the end of the sentence.
S: I usually meet my colleagues in the morning.

Restate a question putting emphasis on the relevant part of the question the student should
pay attention to.
Example:
I: Are you going to buy all of your supplies from Hampton?
S: Yes, we do.
I: Are you going to buy all of your supplies from Hampton?
S: Yes, we are.
Example:
I: How many times have you been to Thailand in your life?
S: I went to Thailand 3 times in my life.
I: How many times have you been to Thailand in your life?
S: I have been to Thailand 3 times in my life.

PEER CORRECTION

If you are teaching a group class, the instructor can elicit peer correction by asking if anyone else has an
idea, or by specifically addressing another student for their input. Eliciting peer correction offers the
advantages that students share their knowledge, support each other and talk more.
Keep in mind though that you need to be aware of the group dynamics if you are using peer correction. In
some cultures, students do not like to be corrected by their peers. An employee may not like correcting his
boss, if they are both in the same group.

INSTRUCTOR-LED CORRECTION

If the instructor judges that a student cannot self-correct and peer correction is not available as an option,
instructor-led correction is the option remaining. The technique is:
 Instructor provides a correct version of the original statement.
 Student repeats the correct version.
If it is a target error, the instructor will then provide a further prompt to elicit a further example from the
student and will follow up with a couple of questions to briefly practice the point, e.g.:
I: What did you choose at the restaurant?
S: I choosed fish.
I: You CHOSE fish.
S: Yes, I chose fish.
I: And to drink?
S: I chose white wine.
I: And what about your colleague?
S: My colleague chose steak and red wine.
I: Excellent.
If it is a non-target error, the instructor will usually move on in the lesson after the initial repetition by the
student.
I: What did you choose at the restaurant?
S: I choosed fish.
I: You CHOSE fish.
S: Yes, I chose fish.
I: Excellent. So, lets look at this dialog

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TARGET AND NON-TARGET ERRORS

Target errors are errors that students produce with language that is a specific goal of the lesson. For
example, if the goal of the lesson is that students will be able to speak about past events using the Past
Simple, and the student makes a mistake with the Past Simple, this is a target error.
Non-target errors are errors students produce with other language that is not part of the specific lesson
goals.
We will generally correct both target and non-target errors, but we spend more time on target errors than
on non-target errors.
Example Target Error:
S: I know him for about 20 years now.
I: How long have you known him?
S: I have known him for about 20 years.
I: And how long have you known me?
S: Ive known you for about 3 months.
I: Great what about your boss?
S: Ive known my boss for 10 years now.
I: Great (lesson continues)

Example Non-target error:


S: I know him for about 20 years now.
I: How long have you known him?
S: I have known him for about 20 years.
I: Great (lesson continues)
Spending too much time practicing to correct errors that are not the point of the lesson will take the focus
off the purpose of the lesson. When these other mistakes are made it is best to simply to elicit or supply
the correction, confirm that the student can produce the correct version, then move on.

TARGET AND NON-TARGET ERRORS

The goal of fluency activities is for students to focus completely on getting their message across and
successfully communicating, and students are free to choose and use whatever language they need to
complete the goals of the activity. For this reason, feedback and correction of student performance take
place after the fluency activity the instructor does not interrupt during the fluency activity, but instead
takes notes of key points to use during the feedback session. Its helpful if the instructor takes notes of
both correct and incorrect utterances, to give positive feedback as well as to review.
It is very important that the instructor sets students expectations that they will not be corrected during the
activity.
Feedback begins with POSITIVE comments about the students success in achieving the goal of the activity.
Some techniques for providing useful feedback after fluency activities are:
For all levels:
The instructor notes some key mistakes with structures or expressions. After the activity, the instructor
asks questions that will elicit student responses including these structures or expressions. If the
students can answer without error, the instructor moves on, but makes a note to look out for these
again in any following activities. If students struggle to use the structures/expressions correctly, the
instructor encourages self- and peer-correction, and briefly practices the structure again.
For advanced students:
 The instructor can note a number of sentences that were used during the activity, write a few examples
on the whiteboard, and the students can make corrections.
The instructor writes a story including the similar errors to those made during the activity students
read the story and try to find and correct the mistakes.
The instructor makes two lists, A & B, including the same sentences as were used during the activity. If
on one list the sentence is incorrect, then on the other list it will be correct. Students have to decide
which sentences are incorrect and correct them. In a group class, this could be done in two groups,
then the groups of students come together to compare.

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