When and How to Correct Errors in EFL Classes

As a teacher, you’ll have to correct your students when they make errors and mistakes. Correction is really important and can’t be ignored. A teacher who fails to do so may be thought as unprofessional or lazy.

Error correction is a matter of balance. Students need help in order to learn, teachers should not be too heavy handed when it comes to individual mistakes on the other hand.

This article will help you to decide when and how to correct your students’ errors, what approaches to take, and why the timing is vital.

Interrupt them to correct their errors when:

  • You want them to be accurate concerning new structures.
  • The majority of them is constantly making the same error.
  • The aim is achieving accuracy. In this case, you might correct errors more frequently.

Give delayed correction in the following situation:

  • If the aim of the activity is fluency and communication. In this case you can make a note of the errors and correct them later on.
  • During fluency activities, errors may be totally ignored.

Errors can remain uncorrected in the following situations:

  • In the middle of a group work or role play.
  • when a shy learner is daring to communicate.
  • If a learner is trying to express a complex or personal idea.

Vary your correction amount according to learners’ personalities.

  • Correct shy learners less and encouraging them to communicate.
  • Correct stronger learners more, so they are challenged.

Ways of self-correction and peer correction:

  • Making a gesture, stopping learners, giving a question.
  • Indicating to the nature of the error, by saying e.g., past tense.
  • Stressing the incorrect form.
  • Repeating the sentence with a questioning intonation.
  • Asking other learners for the correct form.
  • Asking one of the learners to write errors and correct them at the end of activity.

Advantages of self-correction and peer correction.

  • You know how much learners know and what they do not know.
  • Learners feel more confident and independent.
  • Learners know where they are.

Disadvantages of self-correction and peer correction.

  • Some learners might feel superior to others.
  • The same two or three learners might answer and dominate the class interactions.
  • The one who is corrected might feel frustrated.

Ways of correcting mistakes on written work.

  • Underlining errors and asking learners to correct them using correction symbols.
  • Providing correct answers for learners correcting specific errors and leaving others.
  • Getting learners to exchange their copies for peer correction.

Give feedback.

Giving feedback at the end of the class is very important to clarify anything and to correct any error made during the class. Encourage students to ask questions and try to get to the bottom of any queries and confusions.


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  1. Organised and fruitful

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