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Posted: Mon Jul 02, 2007 8:22 pm
by Mr.Libyan
When our students are struggling to speak,should we listen and encourage them even if they have lots of mistakes or should we stand on every word and interrupt them to correct?

Posted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 10:12 am
by Ben
It is very important that you listen to what the student is trying to say and respond to that. They need to feel they are communicating or they can lose the desire to speak if they feel they are only going to have their mistakes exposed. Communicate with them and encourage them.

That being said, error correction is very important too. Separate the communication tasks from the accuracy tasks in your lesson plans. During group discussion tasks, try and make a note of errors they make and bring them up later in a focused correction part of the class. In a grammar practice task, accuracy is very important so you should correct the errors as they occur.

You want to encourage the students to be ambitious and adventurous in their language use so you don't want to be seen as a tyrant who won't allow any error to go uncorrected. But you also don't want to allow errors to become ingrained so it is a very difficult issue.

Posted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 12:44 pm
by Lynn
Well said, Ben! Our goal for speaking is communication, so it is vital that students be encouraged to do their best to communicate. I even allow plenty of hand signals and body language. But correct speech is important to communication, so we have to correct errors as well. I will take notes and then have a focused lesson on grammar, but I will not interrupt a student to correct grammar. I often will ask a student to give more details or find a different way of saying something, if their meaning is unclear. As you point out, it's a fine line. I have had many students over the years tell me how much they appreciate me allowing them to have their say before I make corrections. It makes them feel like I really care about what they have to say, which encourages them to strive for more accurate grammar in communication. My style is to treat my students as people to be listened to instead of problems to be corrected.

Posted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 11:46 pm
by Mr.Libyan
How well you have spoken

Posted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 7:34 am
by Heads Up Eng
I agree with you, Ben. A balance between fluency and accuracy is very important, and changes according to the task and activity. I'll only add that when presenting new grammar or vocab, it's important to offer more correction than later in the lesson. After all, if the students are using the target language incorrectly at the start, then they will establish that mistake as part of their language. Hopefully, later in the lesson, we will have adequately drilled the new material, so few mistakes will pop up.

I actually wrote a couple of articles on this for my website:

How to Correct: Four Ways to Handle Mistakes ... &Itemid=74

Mistakes, Errors, and Correction ... &Itemid=74

Chris Cotter
Heads Up English - Materials based on current events. Just print, and teach!