This worksheet can be done either individually, reflecting on what you do in the classroom, or as a small group bouncing ideas off each other. It is based on an NLP questioning technique which suggests that there are an unlimited number of questions we can ask ourselves about any given action. The final exercise asks you to come up with more questions.


1. WHAT???
Grade the mistakes in the following sentences from 5 to 0, where 5 is a very serious mistake and 0 is no mistake at all. Obviously you must decide for yourself what "serious" means.
Read them aloud - would a non-EFL teacher think the same?
1. She asked me where did I come from.
2. The book was into the bag.
3. The problem was that the door wasn't kayed.
4. He's fond of cooking himself and for me.
5. A few people and I was looking for the mystery man.
6. Did you went there alone.
7. The people panic and runned away.
8. She was about herself very sensible.
9. We visit Baniyas last weekend.
10. I like the city very much, because it is expected about the future.

2. WHEN???
Consider when you would correct the following.
1. You are teaching an elementary class, presenting the present simple through beliefs. A student says: "I believe."
2. The students are working in pairs in a controlled practice activity after the presentation of the futures in an upper-intermediate class. A student says: "I go tomorrow morning."
3. During freer practice at beginners level on questions. A student says: "You are teacher?"
4. Beginners level controlled practice for present simple. A student says: "I am get up at half past six."

3. HOW???
Think of yourself as a learner. Which of the following three teachers would you prefer?
TEACHER A - "I correct students sometimes, but not all the time. If we're practising one particular language point, then I insist that they say it correctly. But if we're doing a freer activity then I try not to correct too much. If I do correct students, I try to do it in an encouraging way."
TEACHER B - "I never let my students make mistakes. If they say anything wrong, I stop them and make them say it correctly. I don't want them to learn bad English from each other, and they prefer this as well."
TEACHER C - "I try to correct errors as little as possible. I want my students to express themselves in English without worrying about making mistakes. Sometimes I notice points that everyone gets wrong and deal with them later - but I never interrupt students to correct them."
Is your choice reflected in the way you correct?
Should it be?

How would you correct students during the following stages?
Does our treatment of errors differ with different levels?

Make a list below of all the different correction techniques you use. I would expect at least ten.
All the ones I use below could be student individual correction, S-S correction or T-S correction.
Red / orange / green cards held by students to indicate how they want to be corrected at any given stage of the lesson.
Research Posters - normally made by students of the most common mistakes they make.
Model Correction
The Mistake Auction
Individual Correction Cards for each student to take home and study
Group Correction at the end of the lesson
On the Whiteboard
Homework Sheets
Round the Class Sheet - I normally use this at the beginning of the next lesson.
Cuisinaire Rods
Cue Cards
More Controlled Practice
Test Teach Test
Guided Discovery
Contrastive Analysis
Fine Box
Points System - especially when students give each other points
Spot the Mistake
Continue from the Mistake - Challenge Game
Task Focus
Zero Correction

How do you show a mistake's been made? These are the most common I've observed or used myself.
Facial expression
Direct "wrong"
Ask the student to "rephrase"
Objects - for example, the stuffed snake for the third person singular 's'

4. WHY???
Why do we correct?
Does it make any difference to student learning?
How do you define accuracy and fluency?
What effect do your theories of language and learning have on these answers?

Try and list other open questions we could ask of each other about correction.
An easy example that springs to mind: "Where do we correct?"

Finally, think about and / or discuss your theories of language and learning.
Think about how the way we correct - the what, when, where and how - is determined by our beliefs about what language is and what learning and teaching are.