Grammatical error correction strategies

It can be frustrating to teachers to spot grammatical errors committed by students in the class, especially when they are engaged in meaningful communication. Depending on the situation, an English teacher may employ any of the proceeding strategies. Please remember, however, that our goal is for our students to become autonomous learners in the long run. Whenever possible, use the one that is more humanist and does not make the students feel anxious to participate in the class.

  1. Explicit error correction

This is used when the teacher states an error and corrects it.

Example:

STUDENT: My brother and I put our toys in room.

TEACHER: My brother and I put our toys in + the room.

(The teacher provides the correct form.)

  1. Recast or reformulate 

This is used when the teacher says it correctly but keeps the flow going.

If it is an error of form, the teacher would recast the student’s production accurately. 

Example:

STUDENT: This is John notebook. 

TEACHER: Oh. That is John’s notebook. 

(perceiving the error to be the form of the possessive)

If meaning is the problem, the teacher would recast what the student has said in a meaningful way.

STUDENT: I need to look at the word in the dictionary. 

TEACHER: Go ahead. You really need to look up the word in the dictionary.

(perceiving the phrasal verb look up to be a better form for what the student means to say)

And if use is the problem, the teacher would recast what the student has said in a more appropriate manner: 

STUDENT: I arise at five in the morning. 

TEACHER: OK. You get up at five in the morning.

(perceiving that a phrasal verb would be more appropriate to convey the student’s intended meaning) 

  1. Clarification request

This is used when a student makes a mistake and a teacher asks a clarification question in order to point the mistake out.

Example:

STUDENT: There isn’t any beaches in this city.

TEACHER: Excuse me? I don’t understand.

(By utilizing words like “Excuse me?” the teacher signals that the message has not been comprehended or that the student’s utterance included some sort of error, and that a repeat or reformulation is required)

  1. Metalinguistic feedback

This is used when the teacher asks a student to reflect on a particular grammar rule.

Example:

STUDENT: Can I borrows your pen?

TEACHER: Do we say it like that?
(Without giving the proper form, the teacher makes remarks or gives information on the development of the student’s utterance.)

  1. Elicitation

This is used when a teacher encourages a student to provide a response.

Example:

TEACHER: Matthew is a good… (Teacher pauses)

STUDENT: Matthew is a good writer.

(by pausing the teacher allows the student to provide a response)

  1. Repetition

This is used when a teacher repeats an error so students can hear it and self-correct.

Example:

STUDENT: The football players receives their incentives for winning the game.

TEACHER: receives??

(the teacher changes his/her intonation)

(To bring the student’s attention to the mistake, the teacher repeats it with a different tone)

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