Home Forums iTDi TESOL Certificate Self-correction of errors Self-correction of errors

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    • #8814



      We’ve looked at lots of techniques to support self-correction in class. We’ve also looked at ideas for using technology to support self-correction in and out of class.

      Choose one or two techniques and ideas that you would like to try out with your learners. Explain why you would like to try them and how you think your learners would benefit.

      Post your ideas in a reply below and comment on other teachers’ ideas.


    • #8891

      Rhett Burton

      I believe that different self-correcting strategies should be included more and more as students become more aware of the language they are using. Awareness generally comes from repeated exposure (comprehensive input, output, and focus on forms).

      I work primarily with pre a1 students. But I do have some A2 level students who I believe can understand some of the conditions for using explicit meta-language prompts.

      When talking about the past- 
      S – I go to grandma’s house.
      T – Future or past? Did you go, or will you go?
      S – went
      T – Yes, change the tense.
      S – I went to grandma’s house.
      T – Great. I like going to my grandma’s house too.

      This is a frequent interaction that needs to be addressed when my students want to talk about their daily lives. My students are generally referencing something they have done.

      I’d reuse this strategy repeatedly because I want my students to question which tense they should be using before addressing me. 

      A Slippery Slope – Direct recasting
      TDV11 – 19:57 Language self-correction – A successful language recast – A few seconds before she said, “you didn’t wrote.” then, I repeated “write” using the correct tense. She then, when writing something on the whiteboard, used the corrected tense.

      I like providing just enough feedback to increase accuracy without disrupting the student’s thoughts.

    • #8902

      Steven Herder

      This is one of my favorite activities for “error correction awareness” that I do in a writing class. I only do it once per year because it takes quite a bit of time. However, I always get great feedback from students about this activity.

      1. I ask students to write a 300-word essay
      2. I highlight every mistake by underlining it or circling it (choose one way – I have tried both)
      3. I tell students that there are basically 3 categories of mistakes: 1) Careless mistakes, 2) My bad habit mistakes, or 3) Errors I didn’t realize WERE mistakes
      4. I ask students to review their highlighted essay and decide whether each mistake was  a category 1, 2, or 3.
      5. While students are doing this, I walk around and consult/confirm as necessary
      6. We then calculate a percentage for each category. For example, if 15 mistakes out of a total 3o mistakes are category 1, 10 mistakes are category 2, and 5 mistakes are category 3, then the student realizes that:

      50% are careless mistakes
      33% are bad habit mistakes
      17% are beyond my level mistakes

      7. We then share this data with classmates, and reflect on the results. Some comments that I remember are:

      “OMG – 80% of my mistakes are careless mistakes. I NEVER knew this before. I’m definitely going to be more careful.”

      “Wow! I see that my friend takes more risks with her English, because there were many category 3 mistakes. I think that is a good idea, so I’m going to try to challenge myself more.”

      “I make so many mistakes with a, an, and the. I think I never really understood the rules about this when I learned it in junior high school (maybe I was fooling around), so I’m going to go back and try to learn the rules again.”

      If you’d like to try this activity, please let me know how it goes.

      • #8908

        This is a gem! I’m going to borrow this next time and will endeavour to let you know how it goes!

        What kind of follow-up activities do you do, e.g. self-review/correction, peer-review/correction, etc?

      • #13782

        scott gray

        I am going to try to incorporate this next year. Great idea!


    • #8927

      Barbara Bujtás

      When I do an accuracy-focused activity (controlled and then freer) orally (https://www.test-english.com/grammar-points/b1/past-simple-present-perfect/3/ for example, we do it in the lesson without clicking on anything and then it can even be homework), I usually give feedback computer-game style, for the good form I give a ‘yesssss’ in a funny voice, the wrong answer earns a sad ‘no, no, no no’, which is obviously followed by the correct answer. Then during the freer practice (asking each other ‘have you ever …’ and ‘how did it happen’ questions, sharing experiences and stories, I can use the same style corrective feedback. It would sound funny during a spontaneous fluency-focused conversation.

      When the errors are performance errors, I just signal them, if they were made because the the structure/vocabulary was unknown for the learner, I write the right form. But now that I’ve read Steve’s activity, maybe I will make my students be more aware of the nature of their mistakes.

    • #8955

      In the past for writing tasks, I have used checklists that include common errors that students should know and thus be able to self-correct. For example with quite proficient 7-8 year-olds who can write simple sentences they use the following 3-point list:

      1. Check your use of CAPITAL LETTERS
        (a) for names [or ‘proper nouns’], and
        (b) starting a sentence.
      2. Check your punctuation with
        (a) full stops at the end of sentences, and
        (b) commas (e.g. where you feel a ‘pause’ in a longer sentence).
      3. Check your spelling.

      However, in future, I would like to get those students to develop and design their own checklist using a series of communicative tasks:

      1. Brainstorm common mistakes they make in writing.
      2. Categorize the mistakes (e.g. colour-code).
      3. Prioritize which ones are easiest to find/check.
      4. Design a simple checklist.
    • #11194

      Masatoshi Shoji

      Your idea is interesting. I would like to adjust it to the lower level and want to try somehow.

      • #11329

        Hi Masatoshi. Could you say whose idea you are referring to? If you can thread your reply they should also receive a notification if they have their settings turned on. I can show you how to do this again in our next tutorial or Office Hour, or check the instructions sent via email near the beginning of the course.

    • #11196

      Masatoshi Shoji

      I have never thought about and done anything but those in this lesson.

      1. I would like students to realize the pattern and category of their mistakes.
      2. Putting someone as an observer might be an interesting idea. However, I am not sure if every student can do that well.

      • #11330

        Self-review and peer review really help students to get better and checking their work and reducing the number of ‘careless errors’. It also means that by the time I give feedback as a teacher, I can focus more on areas that the students cannot do themselves.

        I generally go over the types of errors they should be able to find first then they use that for self-review. In the first round of peer review, however, I focus on meaning and content NOT errors. So, for example, students write small comments (e.g. That sounds good! …. Me too! … Really?) and questions to find out more or to clarify any misunderstanding. This helps to build rapport and teamwork so that when they look at errors, students feel supported by each other, not just criticised.

        Using teams of 3 or 4 for peer review also helps, especially if you’re not sure that all students can help each other. Plus, if they can’t do it well yet, then that’s all the more reason to teach and help them to develop a new skill!

    • #13746

      scott gray

      I would like to try leaving a gap as it is less intrusive on my students but gives them more of a choice in trying to respond that is not discouraging to them. I am not saying wrong but rather you could do better to them. It is one I have not had a lot of time to use as whether self or external pressure I have usually felt a time crunch to keep it moving or some other teacher pushing the speed or activity with time constraints. So, if I had more chances I would like to give them more time to respond and come away with their own answer.


      • #13757

        That message of “You could to better”, whether implicitly or explicitly made, is important. With students, I tend mostly to use the phrase, “How can we improve this or make this sentence better?” then give hints, including gap fills, to help as needed.

        It’s also valuable to write down perfectly good ‘model’ answers to ‘validate’ students, too, of course. Sometimes students focus so much on what needs correcting that they seem to forget or don’t realise what they should continue to do right!

      • #13781

        scott gray

        Great advice. Yeah, trying to get them to see that who cares of blame but how can we make it better is a large step to becoming more autonomous in learning. Think I could do more to give more better models and going to try that more.


    • #13751

      Rhett Burton

      These days I am using h5p features, similar to the iTDi course. It allows students to type, drag, tap, and speaks the answers into a text field. I focus on one book task; then, I build up their procedural knowledge to use them. I like this option because it has self-correcting technology building into it and offers comprehensible feedback.

      • #13756

        It would be great if you have a sample to share, Rhett.

        Automated feedback/corrections (including through Quizizz, Quizlet, Kahoot!, etc) have that impersonal nature that often makes it easy for kids (and adults) to accept and move on. Plus the game-like nature of many online quizzes and activities often means that students feel motivated to try again, so this is great to capitalize on.

    • #13777

      Jessica Sohn

      I’m mostly around young learners. We have writing packets for kids where they practice writing sentences(capital letters, punctuation, etc) and also have a page where they practice describing a picture. So, I normally correct their work at the beginning of class when checking HW. I usually try not to over correct and simply check errors for sentence structure.

      With my higher level kids, they have one day writing class where they learn writing paragraphs and they practice putting their ideas to words.
      And with them in grammar class, I normally do a group activity, where I put anonymous errors on the board and fix it together.

      I’d like to try note-taking or rehearsing speech with my higher level speaking classes, where they can get more practice to see their errors. I want to explore and use some more technology, too. And, with writing, I’d like to implement self-corrections and peer-corrections using color coding (categorize). I would like to put in more space for the learners to self-correct.

      • #13794

        Thanks for sharing all of that, Jessica. Just a couple of questions:

        1. When checking your YLs work, how do you gauge ‘overcorrection’?
        2. For your grammar class with higher levels, how do you select which errors to fix together on the board?

        For speech rehearsal, it’s also interesting to explore getting students to use dictation software, possibly followed by Grammarly, teaching them how to use these tools to their advantage.


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