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Olga Boltneva Marina Belousova

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1 Olga Boltneva Marina Belousova
Learner mistakes Olga Boltneva Marina Belousova

2 The role of error Outcomes:
distinguishing different types of mistakes: errors vs. slips understanding factors in learner errors and reasons underlying different mistakes categorising types of mistakes discussing some of the issues involved in error correction


4 Did your teachers put a strong emphasis on correcting mistakes, or did they make you feel that it was acceptable to make mistakes? How did this make you feel – in either of these situations?

5 Slips vs. Errors Slips: Ss know the correct form, and make the slip due to carelessness, tiredness, distraction, inattentiveness, etc. Ss can usually correct these kinds of mistakes themselves Errors: Ss make a genuine mistake because don’t actually know the correct form. The error is made due to factors such as trying to produce something which has not been fully learnt or learnt incorrectly, interference from L1, mistaken beliefs about the L2 rules. Ss are not usually able to self-correct errors NB! L1 – first language or mother tongue L2 – target language or a second or foreign language

6 Slips vs. Errors Which one can be considered ‘developmental’, i.e. Ss make mistakes because their learning of the item is as yet incomplete? Which type can Ss usually correct by themselves?

7 Why L2 learners make errors
Factors in learner errors: Interference Developmental error Mislearning Fossilisation

8 The nature of typical mistakes
Age groups Levels Background Learning styles ………..

9 Mistake categories Grammar Register Lexis Pronunciation
Misunderstanding what they hear Spelling …….

10 Mistake categories Grammar – mixing up tenses
Register- using formal language in informal context Lexis – confusion over words with similar meanings Pronunciation – confusing sounds of L1 & L2 Misunderstanding what they hear – caused by difficulties in distinguishing sounds, words, word boundaries in connected speech Spelling – writing words which have similar sounds but are spelt differently

11 Making mistakes is a natural part of language learning.
Mistakes play an important role in indicating to teachers the stage learners are at Mistakes show needs for further teaching or study Mistakes help teachers to advise learners on what to do to improve

12 Why do we make mistakes? Interlanguage – A stage in learning in which Ss mix elements of L1 structure, rules or pronunciation with L2 when they use L2. This is constantly changing as learners progress in L2 (By me a dog, I no come) Mother-tongue interference – Applying the rules of L1 to L2 (The news are good) Carelessness – Not paying attention (I’ll be in a minute, I am just wearing my coat. (I am just putting my coat on) NB! This could be also due to tiredness or interlanguage

13 Why do we make mistakes? Translation - Converting from L1. This cause is very close to Mother-tongue interference category (e.g. using ‘please’ when you give someone something) Over-generalisation/over-application – assuming a rule applies in all cases and over-using it (How many childs have you got?) Tiredness – Feeling tired (e.g. missing out words, using simpler forms). Ss can correct these when prompted Anxiety – Feeling nervous (e.g. disjointed sentences)

14 The dos and don’ts of error correction
Tell Ss what they got right as well as what was wrong Praise is very important for motivation and developing self-confidence Don’t Judge Ss by the errors they make Errors are inevitable and integral part of learning, so there are no point in deciding that learners are “good” or “bad” Correct all mistakes during a fluency activity If you do this you will interrupt the flow of activity. Only correct them if the error causes miscommunication Encourage Ss to correct themselves This is a good habit – the more they can do this the less dependent on the teacher they will be and will help them to analyse and understand better Discourage Ss from correcting each other Ss can learn a lot from each other. Ss are often able to explain things to each other in a way they understand better then when T explains

15 The dos and don’ts of error correction
Correct all learners in the same way Ss may be at different levels, have different learning styles and work at different paces. Ts need to consider when Ss would benefit from correction and when not Do Create a classroom atmosphere where Ss feel free to ask for help This helps self-confidence and encourages Ss to try things out for themselves See errors as useful Ts can learn about their Ss through the kinds of errors they make. Errors can provide feedback on the T’s work, and may help her to plan or adjust activities in future lessons Anticipate the errors that might occur when planning a lesson A good T tries to predict the types of errors a particular activity may throw up and then work out strategies for dealing with them. (e.g. pre-teaching the vocabulary)

16 Correction codes WW WO SP V P X ? T

17 Correction codes WW Wrong word WO Mistake in word order SP
Spelling mistake V Verb used wrongly P Wrong punctuation X Extra word ? Meaning unclear T Wrong tense Something missing

18 Correction codes PROS feedback tailored to individual needs
Ss assume responsibility CONS Ss training is required some Ss may find it not user-friendly

19 Reflection How important is accuracy?
Is it always necessary to correct learners’ mistakes? What effect can correction have on motivation?

20 Thank you!

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