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Correcting errors

 
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Mindful



Joined: 13 Jul 2010
Posts: 10
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2010 6:17 am    Post subject: Correcting errors Reply with quote

Hi all,

I teach lower level ESL. I'm wondering about correcting errors in writing or speaking appropriately. Which is the best approach? Correct all errors you hear/see in speaking/writing? Or only correct the ones that pertain to the grammar we're learning at the moment? For example, I took in a writing exercise today that I'm marking at home. Right now we're focusing on using simple present and past correctly. A student made a mistake like this:

I was start work yesterday and I was on home after 5:30.

Should I correct the "I was start work" part? Or should I correct everything including "I was on home"? Right now, we're not looking at how to correctly say "I'm home or I'm at home".

Thanks. I'm really looking forward to hear what other teachers think.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3008
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2010 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hard to tell what the student meant to say. Did they (=he or she) start a completely new job yesterday? Or do they mean simply that they went to work (in their established job) and didn't get home until after 5:30 (which is to me is what seems to be the main message, the main proposition, struggling to emerge from this student's piece of writing)? If so, what's so informative or surprising about that? Most regular daytime jobs are until at least 5pm, so a half-hour commute at most doesn't sound at all bad (compared to say I'm so busy in my (new) job - nowadays I usually don't get home until at least 8 or 9pm!).

Basically, unless the student has "more" to say than the apparent equivalent of 'I am simply grinding out some grammar practice here because you asked me to, teacher', I can't really see the point in correcting (that is, beginning to correct) their sentence itself too much, because all you end up with then is something that is superficially correct but of little real conversational interest or import. Instead offer them a 100% improved alternative sentence that expresses what you honestly think they wanted to say, and let them then correct you (or not, as the case may or may not be dependng on how well you sussed what it was precisely that they wanted to say). But I suppose you could if you feel so inclined immediately, dutifully and meekly offer them something back like 'My job is from 8 til 5' (note the simplicity) at least! (But even this is a sort of 100% improved alternative sentence like I was just bangin' on about - I just can't seem to stop helping "myself", eh!).

But hey, I could be misreading things in my thinking some students don't give the teacher enough to work with sometimes!


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Wed Sep 01, 2010 9:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Sally Olsen



Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1306
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2010 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We talked about this a bit at http://forums.eslcafe.com/teacher/viewtopic.php?t=2989&highlight=correction
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Rp



Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 50
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2010 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Mindful:

Nice to see a fellow Canadian here. If I can toss my "two-cents" in, I've always used the "meaning-rule". If a student's response [ written or verbal ] is not clear as to meaning, then I offer a corrective opportunity. This also depends on the level and intent of the class. If you are conducting EAP, then you have little wiggle room, if you are conducting basic levels, then you do.

Maybe it's a hold-over from my own educational past, but I do not like to be too "corrective" as I believe such an approach can be a barrier to learning for my students.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3008
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2010 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm, maybe the student meant BY 5:30? Which would be a reasonable job/hours (but still a pretty average statement).
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