How to correct students during English classes: All mistakes must be corrected
Whether it be during traditional classes or online English courses (English lessons via Skype), student correction should follow a certain number of basic rules. The most essential of these rules is so obvious that we would not even bother mentioning it if we had not realized that it was often ignored, even by experienced native English teachers. Students’ mistakes must ALWAYS be corrected. During teacher trainings at Break Into English (https://www.englishclassviaskype.com), we are often astonished by the amount of candidates who let their students speak without correcting several of their mistakes. This is very detrimental to the students who assume their errors are correct and therefore assimilate false linguistic elements that then become much more difficult to eradicate.
But not all mistakes should be corrected at once
All student mistakes must be corrected at some point, yet this does not mean they should all be corrected at once. Correcting mistakes is a delicate affair that requires subtlety, intuition, and know-how. First of all, the correction of mistakes will depend on the phase of the learning process: if they occur in the more controlled practice phase, they must be corrected immediately, but if they occur afterwards in the performance phase, based on fluency and independent language production, mistakes should not be corrected straight away, but after the performance. Thus, it is important that the teacher write down all of his or her students’ mistakes during each of their performances.
Another factor that will influence student correction is the personality of the students. Certain students want to be corrected immediately, even during the performance phase, and others lose confidence or feel frustrated if they are corrected too often in a single lesson. The teacher must learn how to adapt to each of these student types. Also, if a student is having major difficulties with a learning point, it is better not to insist on his or her mistakes too much, but to leave corrections for the beginning of the next lesson, when the student’s motivation and attention levels are once again high. This also allows students to calmly study their mistakes at home without the pressure of having to produce results in front of their teacher. Sometimes all students need to correct themselves is a little time on their own to understand what they were doing wrong.
These are the most essential rules related to student correction. They may seem easy and straightforward, but their importance should never be underestimated. At Break Into English, we have made them a central point of our teacher instructions. Whether our teachers are trained to give General English, Business English or Legal English courses, they must all start by learning how to correct students during English lessons before they are given any students.