How should I correct ESL students speaking mistakes?
Positive Correction in ESL Classes
Positive correction methods is the best way to correct ESL students speaking mistakes. Correct ESL students when they make speaking mistakes by using positive correction. Encourage them to self-correct and ask them how they want to be corrected. Embracing positive correction methods will improve your techniques for correcting your students in your ESL classes.
Positive correction encourages students to own their own behavior and feel like they have agency in the learning process. Positive correction is non-confrontational and also fosters positive teacher-student working relationships, which creates a better environment for learning.
Top tips to best correct ESL students speaking mistakes using postive correction
- Ask the student how often they want to be corrected
- Don’t interrupt students
- If a student mispronounces a word when reading a passage, underline the word and correct the student after they are finished reading.
- Encourage students to correct themselves
- Praise the student after they correct themselves in order to encourage them to continue to do this
- Consider using hand signals to signal a mistake
Positive Correction Relies on Respect: Ask the student how often they want to be corrected
Ask students whether they want to be corrected during their speaking mistakes. If a mistake is reoccurring, then fix the speaking error. Otherwise, most speaking errors should be overlooked in favor of fluency and speaking comfort. However, if your student is an adult, ask them how and how often they want to be alerted to speaking mistakes.
Some students find it jarring and stressful when the teacher corrects every mistake. Other students enjoy the more stringent, tough approach and want every error corrected. Students come with different personalities and also different academic backgrounds. They bring with them different assumptions about the role of a teacher. Ask and learn from your student.
Positive Correction Relies on Patience: Don’t Interrupt Students
Patience underlies all positive correction techniques. You must give students time to correct themselves. Don’t interrupt them. Try to keep notes during class about the student’s repeat errors and make future lessons about correcting these
Positive Correction Encourages Independence: Encourage students to correct themselves
Ask students whether they want to be corrected for their speaking mistakes. Also, consider using hand gestures to let the student know they have made a speaking mistake and give them time to self-correct. For example, I point behind me to alert the student when they used the wrong tense and need to use the past tense.
By waiting and encouraging the student to flex their own correction muscles, you will be building independence and confidence in your students.
Accuracy versus Fluency in ESL Classes
Sometimes, it is less important to correct ESL students speaking mistakes than it is to promote fluency. In effect, accuracy can be traded off for fluency. Fluency and accuracy are very different skill sets. Generally, fluency refers to speaking naturally and comfortably, and accuracy refers to correct grammar and vocabulary usage. For example, for class discussions or role-play situations, students should be encouraged to speak freely without fear of making mistakes. This would be a poor time to correct speaking errors.
Bottom Line: Encourage the student to catch their own mistakes and correct themselves.
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