One of the most important things we do as English teachers during lessons with our students is correct their mistakes. Correcting students’ mistakes can sometimes be exhausting but it is such a crucial step of language teaching and it is what will help our students take their English to the next level.
While working with students there are many things that we need to be listening out for. In this article we wanted to go through some of these corrections and how to handle them.
While one of the most basic corrections we make, pronunciation is important because it can cause a lot of confusion when our students go out to use their English in the real world. The best way to work on pronunciation mistakes is to have students do lots of practice on words and sounds that are most often confused.
What to look out for:
- pronunciation of ‘th’ : the difference between the sound in ‘this’ and ‘that’ vs ‘three’ and ‘thing’.
- pronunciation of the short ‘i’: the difference between the sound in ‘live’ and ‘fit’ vs ‘leave’ and ‘feet’
- pronunciation of the ‘w’ as a ‘v’: paying close attention to words like ‘would’ or ‘water’
- pronunciation of the silent ‘g’: especially in words such as ‘height’, ‘fight’ or ‘foreign’
2. Grammatical Errors.
These are the mistakes that we are most used to correcting. While there are endless grammar mistakes that our students make, these are some of the most common you should be listening for and correcting. By helping students understand these mistakes early on, they can learn to correct themselves and prevent making them in the future.
What you should listen for:
- forgetting the ‘s’ for third person singular verb conjugations: “He work really hard every day.”
- using the wrong preposition: “We went in America last year.”
- selecting the wrong infinitive, gerund, or base form: “I decided going home because I was really tired.” or “I need study more for my exam.”
- incorrect comparatives: “My sister is more young than me.”
3. Wrong Word Order.
Sometimes our students are so close to that perfect sentence, it’s just an issue of moving the words around a little! These corrections can be frustrating for our students but they are super important for helping our students become more fluent.
Reinforce some of these rules:
- adjective order: the normal adjective order is: 1) quantity or number 2) quality or opinion 3) size 4) shape 5) age 6) colour 8) nationality 9) material. “We had two chocolate big cakes for my birthday party.” vs the correct “What had two big chocolate cakes for my birthday party.”
- questions: we usually invert the verb and subject to form questions. “You are going to the party later?” vs “Are you going to the party later?”
- word order: subject-verb-object-place-time: “I was playing yesterday soccer when you called me.” vs “I was playing soccer yesterday when you called me.” or “I always eat at the table dinner.” vs “I always eat dinner at the table.”
4. False Friends.
These are going to be different depending on your student’s native tongue. Because here at Fluentify we work mostly with Italian students, we wanted to point out some of these common words that our students often mistake. In this table we show you the word that our students often use, it’s Italian translation, and the word that they should use/ the idea they really want to convey.
|English Word||Similar Italian Translation||Correct English Word|
|to realize||realizzare||to design/create/build|
|ultimate||ultimo||last/ most recent|
5. Unnatural Spoken Language.
One of our goals as English teachers is to help our student improve their overall skills- reading, writing, listening, and speaking. However, we also want to help our students sound natural when using general and conversational English. This can sometimes be a problem when students speak exactly how they write. When making these corrections with students, remember to explain that while what they said is grammatically correct, there is an easier or more natural way to express the same thing in spoken English.
You can correct these types of sentences:
- Ending sentences with a preposition: “This is the restaurant to which I’m going.” → “This is the restaurant I’m going to.”
- Using phrasal verbs instead of standard verb constructions: “I would like to discover more about that project.” → “I would like to find out more about that project.”
- Using prepositions in questions: “To what concert will you go next week?” → “What concert will you go to next week?” or “At what time should we meet?” → “What time should we meet at?”
- Using the past tense: “I have just finished my final paper.” → “I just finished my final paper.” or “Have you finished your homework?” → “Did you finish your homework?”
These are just a few of the many corrections we make when working with ESL students. It’s important not only to correct our students but to explain why what they have said is wrong so that they are able to correct themselves in the future.
Are there any other major corrections you have to make often? Share them with us below!