Thursday, May 15, 2008

English Language Error Correction: A Key Language Skills Development Tool

A Lot of English Language Mistakes

English as a foreign language learners make a lot of mistakes in class, don’t they? Speaking, writing, grammar and spelling errors are practically way of life with teachers and learners alike. It’s a “healthy” problem though because with errors come corrections. And with correction comes learning. (J. D. Brown, 1988) The more errors learners make the more correction is done. The more correction is done, the more leaning that takes place. We most often learn much more from our mistakes than our successes. True or False?

Why Use Error Correction?

When learners are producing language I class, whether speaking or writing, they usually want to know when they make any serious mistakes in their production. Do your learners ever ask, “Teacher, is that okay?” Certainly, they most probably do. In that case then, some form or forms of error correction techniques should prove to be useful. While it’s not typically recommended to correct learner errors while they are speaking, some speech or pronunciation correction should be done immediately after their discourse. If many of the learners produce similar speech or pronunciation mistakes on a consistent basis, a lesson on that particular aspect may well be called for. English or other foreign language learners might also self or peer correct written work and reading in class. (M. Spratt, 2003)

Peer Correction vs. Self-Correction

There are essentially three basic forms of error correction:

• Self-correction
• Peer correction
• Teacher correction

Of these the most effective in English or foreign language skills acquisition is self-correction. When learners realize and correct their own mistakes, they are more effectively internalizing the language. The next most desirable and effective form is peer correction. When learners are able to recognize and correct their mistakes collectively, they actually help each other to develop English language skills with less interference of their respective Affective Filters. (Krashen–Terrell, 1983) Finally, there is correction of errors by the teacher. An effective means, but one that should be last and the least frequently used form of English or other foreign language correction. In cases where the EFL teacher may not be a native or near-native speaker, has grammar or pronunciation problems, heavy accent or speech traits or may otherwise desire to do so, recorded audio or video materials could be used to provide corrective modeling. (B. Kashru, 1983)

Identify the Errors and Correct

Just for fun, let’s try a few interesting examples. Can you identify and correct the tag question, modal and other errors in the following sentences? Also, the corrected sentences should be true.

Today is Wednesday, aren’t they?

It’s raining today, isn’t we?

She doesn’t have a book, do he?

He like coffee, do you?

Students should be allowed to fail exams.

Teachers must to study everyday.

Students can fail all their exams and pass the course, does he?

You don’t must to pay the university registration fee, can’t you?

Yesterday was Monday, isn’t they?

So, how well do you think you did? If you have any doubts or questions, feel free to contact me. Remember, the more errors learners make the more correction is done. The more correction is done, the more leaning that takes place. Let your learners know that making mistakes in English class is okay. Errors can be highly effective learning tools. We often learn much more from our mistakes than our successes, now don’t we?

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 100 countries. Get your FREE E-book,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at: Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.

No comments: