TEACHING BLOG

5. Learners… and their mistakes

I am sure that all us teachers, and other students for that matter, have heard students complain about continuously making (the same) mistakes. But in language learning mistakes are necessary as we are going where we have never been before to learn something new, and in doing this we can often make mistakes “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new” (Albert Einstein). Language learning is not an easy thing, but what is proven to make it even harder is stress and anxiety. It is essential that we deliver this message to our students, that they know it is ok to make mistakes. This is part of the learning process, errors should be known as lessons and not be punished or penalized as this will only make the issue of anxiety worse; this brings up the issue of motivation, positive reinforcement may take longer but it is far more enriching. My suggestion is to focus on what your students are doing well and think of strategies to tackle their faults. Teachers need to listen to their students; they need to identify the roots of their student´s errors, the students are probably making these errors due to a lack of understanding of a certain grammar point or pronunciation rule. Through reflexive teaching the teacher ought to incorporate these points into their follow up lessons in order to address these issues and correct the faults, whether the student is in fact aware of the process or not.

Error correction is a difficult thing to handle but I would suggest a varied approach. For example using various error correcting activities such as: annonymous correction, spot the mistake, and peer correction. A positive working environment produces positive results so why not make a game or activity out of it?

Recommended for further reading:

[Explorations in Language Acquisition and Use: The Taipei Lectures] (By: Krashen) [published: January, 2003]

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