Tips for correcting students during the lesson

People are sensitive and easily discouraged, so when a teacher hears a mistake and corrects the student immediately, it could serve to annoy or embarrass the student.  Here are two ways to minimize damage to fragile egos:

1.  Delayed correction

Introduce a speaking activity, have a bit of discussion, and hand out the role cards to the participants.  Tell them to read their role card, and give them a minute to write some notes or think of what to say.  Signal for them to start talking when they look ready.

You, the teacher, should sit nearby and keep your pen tip casually poised on the surface of the paper, hidden by your arm or something else.  The students shouldn’t see you writing because they tend to stop talking when you dramatically pick up a pen and start scribbling away.  Quickly write the word or phrase that they said wrong in one column, and make a quick note to yourself in the other column.  I do this so I can remember why I wrote it.  Sometimes they make so many mistakes that I can’t remember what the context was for each scribbling of mine, and then I can’t talk about it later.

When the role play is over, tell them they did a good job.  Go to the board or flip chart and review only the three or four most important mistakes.  Don’t go through each one, especially if you’ve made a long list.

“I heard someone say, I am here since three years.  Remember to use the present perfect and say, I have been here for three years.”

“When making appointments, don’t say, come to me, say come to my office.”

Continue the activity with the next pair or group, correcting secretly and only explaining afterward.

2.  Instant feedback bites

If the class is discussing something, and the students have asked you to correct their mistakes as they speak, only give them the correct word, phrase, or pronunciation.  Don’t launch into a full explanation of the rules behind it.  If they are making the same mistakes again and again, write it down and explain it after the discussion is done.

Students learn from mistakes, but they get annoyed when they can’t finish their thought because the teacher keeps talking.

They will say persons when they should say people.  They’ll say informations, childrens, and advices, but he go to the store.

Sometimes the whole lesson will consist of me just listening and saying, people.  People.  People.  Goes.  Works.  Or even just s.”  If the students are discussing something, let them talk, and only interrupt to facilitate or to stop someone from hogging the whole  conversation.

Remember: Minimize Teacher Talk Time.  Students are there to practice.