Monthly Archives: February 2013

“Stop correcting me!”

The student tutted dismissively before continuing with his answer. He’d been going for barely a few seconds more before he hit upon the same snag- third person singular ‘S’.

“Is it ‘he always eat’ or ‘he always ‘eats’?” the teacher enquired gently after the student had finished his sentence.

The student huffed, visibly irritated by the question, causing a palpable shift in the jovial mood of the class…

Although the situation is imagined I’m sure there are those who have encountered it, or something similar. It is the kind of circumstance which raises questions about spontaneous correction- in particular, how verbal correction of students ought to be differentiated.

Many schools profess to employ a method of correction, but I’m interested to know how this works on the ground when the ‘method’ receives different responses from different students. Students often implore to be corrected whenever they’ve committed a spoken error, as, frustratingly, their native-speaker friends or colleagues refuse to do so no matter how many times they’re asked to!

Agreement is fairly unanimous over the idea that cutting in on every mistake is counter-productive, but what does the teacher employing a correction ‘method’ do when faced with a student who does not wish to be corrected in frontof their classmates, for whatever reason?

Perhaps it is in these sorts of scenarios that the atmosphere engendered in the class by the teacher is brought to bear above and beyond application of teaching methods. It’s not impossible to imagine, if the degree of camaraderie is sufficient, the other, more-willing-to-be-corrected students being sympathetic about the fact that one of their classmates prefers not to be corrected in the way that they do. That is, without the unfortunate sentiments of “why is he being corrected like that when we’re corrected like this?” manifesting themselves amongst the group.

The teacher in the story above might have elected to meet with the student in question after the lesson to discuss the problem and to encourage them to regard being corrected differently. I think he would if I were him, so what if it was you? I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has had to put a correction method aside for the sake of differentiation.

Tristan Francis
Director of Studies