* Error – a result of faulty past learning, or attempting what is not yet or only incompletely learnt
* Mistake – a performance problem; the learner knows the correct version and may well correct themselves when prompted
* Slip/Lapse – a mistake caused by fatigue, carelessness etc. Often made by native speakers!
It is not always evident when a learner has made an error or mistake, although for the former they should be able to correct themselves. Errors are by their very nature more serious.
There are many types of errors/mistakes that can occur in the class:
* Grammar Errors – e.g. wrong tense or word order
* Vocabulary Errors – e.g. the wrong word or expression
* Pronunciation / Stress / Intonation Errors
* Comprehension Errors
* Pragmatic / Appropriacy Errors – e.g. speech is too formal / informal for the context
* I like gorilla cheese sandwich (Pron = grilled)
* Where you did go yesterday? (Gram = verb –noun agreement)
* The Policeman is tall (Pron = stress)
* I am here since Tuesday (Gram = wrong tense)
* I’m going to heat you (Pron = long I: sound)
* I am taller my sister (Vocab = missing word)
* I eat shocolate everyday (Pron = sh for ch sounds)
* Open that window! (Vocab = impolite & wrong word)
Who should Correct?
1. Indicate an error has been made and where the error is
2. Ask learner to self-correct
3. If they can’t, ask other learners
4. If they can’t, teacher corrects
5. Have learners to say the correct sentence/word
Different learners have different needs/wants with regards to error correction. For example: Learner A wants all their mistakes corrected while Learner B does not want any correction at all. Thus it is important to have a varied approach to correction and take learner needs into consideration. For example with the learners outlined above…
* Needs to be shown that there are times when fluency is more important than accuracy.
* Constant correction is demotivating.
* This leaner is probably aware that they learn from their mistakes
* Needs to be shown that sometimes accuracy is more important than fluency.
* Mistakes are a natural thing when learning anything new but we need to know we’ve made a mistake to learn from it.
* Might have had experience of negative or humiliating error correction
REMEMBER: Correction should always be positive
When to Correct?
Teachers need to decide when to correct errors either immediately or after the task. Below are some ideas as to what to correct when.
Errors should be corrected immediately when the focus is on accuracy, for example: during drilling, controlled practice activities, mistakes that affect understanding etc. While those that occur during fluency based tasks can be delayed until after the task so not to interrupt the learner’s fluency for example: during free speaking activities, presentations, basic errors.
How to Correct?
Having decided that error correction is important and when to correct, we must also look at how to correct.
* Gestures and facial expressions to show learners they have made a mistake.
* Hands to show an error with word order or tense.
* Fingers to show which word contains a mistake.
* Repeat the learner’s sentence up to the mistake.
* Repeat the mistake with intonation that shows which word is wrong.
* Use the whiteboard for a post activity (delayed) correction slot.
* Use a correction code for written work.
* Use terminology to show mistake, e.g. tense, preposition, is the sound /b/ or /v/?
* Refer learners to:
Classroom management incorporates a number of areas including classroom dynamics (getting the class to work well together), maximising learner talk time (STT) and stopping/reducing the use of Japanese (L1) in the class. Also gestures have an important role to play in the classroom: Supporting oral commands with physical gestures makes them easier to understand.
Getting learners to talk to each other in group and pair work and reporting back to the class on what they discussed etc is quite and easy to get a group used to and can help new learners integrate into the group quickly.
Pair-work is so important in class: as it maximises learner talk time (STT). This is vital as:: learners need to use language to process and remember it and to accomplish this in a group class is impossible if the teacher is centre-stage all the time as only one learner can speak.
Class dynamics means getting a class to work well together, not just individual learners listening only to the teacher. It is vital that teachers encourage learners to listen to each other. This can be harder than it sounds as some learners are used to only learning from a teacher and it can be hard to get the idea across that they can learn from other learners.
Ideas to get learners to listen to each other include:
* Do not echo (repeat what a learner has said, usually for the benefit of the rest of the class). If a learner has said something useful or something that other learner have not heard, get the learner to repeat it for the benefit of all.
* Personalise language so learners are using language to communicate experience or knowledge to each other.
* Have learners report back on what they have learnt from their partner so they are encouraged to listen carefully and remember what their partner has said.
* During group feedback, make sure everyone is listening and not checking their own answers or staring out of the window.
One drawback to pair-work in a monolingual environment is a tendency for the learners to slip into their L1 (first language). While there are ideas both supporting and refuting the usefulness of L1 in the language classroom reiterate that Shane’s policy is that NO Japanese should be used in the class. If participants feel that Japanese is useful with lower levels, explain that successful language grading should mean teachers can deal with any problems in English only.
Next ask if there are any situations when it is acceptable for learners to speak to each other in Japanese. There are definitely some activities that should be conducted only in English, speaking activities (controlled and free) fall into this category and it is important to remind learners that they should not use Japanese.
Having established that there are times when the teacher is going to be strict about learners only using English, how can we stop them?
How can we stop learners using their L1?
* Tell learners they should not use the L1. (It is easy for them to forget as it seems more natural to use their L1.) Incorporate it into the activity instructions.
* Remind learners if they start slipping into L1.
* If it is a big problem, keep a score and give minus points for each time pairs/groups slip into their L1.
* If a pair are chatting because they have finished early, give them something else to do or get them to work with another pair.
* Explain the importance of only using English to achieve the aim of the activity.
Avoiding L1 in pair and group work
* Make your rationale clear from the very beginning.
* Decide where you will be in the classroom so you are best placed to help everyone.
* Monitor more overtly.
* Keep speaking activities short until learners have more confidence and increased fluency.
* Making sure learners have enough English to do the tasks you set.
* Start with ‘open pair work’ as a model for ‘closed pair work’.
* Assign clear roles – learners know what tasks they have to do (e.g. language monitor).
* Feed in/teach communicative phrases.