I stand corrected: Self-correction in fluency activities
Self-correction is key during any activity. In a previous post we looked at the different ways of developing self-correction in order to improve accuracy. Today, however, we will turn to promoting self-awareness during activities. The main difference between accuracy and fluency activities in terms of self-correction, is that with the latter, it is all about the flow of the discussion. For this reason it is best (in most cases) to come back to the correction bit at the end of the activity. It goes without saying then that this implies that the teacher should dot down the mistakes made as the students are chatting away! Let´s look at how we can use this information to foster self-correction…
…But first a word on self-correction
Students should be given the opportunity to correct themselves. Sometimes all the teacher needs to do is give them a puzzled look or repeat the sentence back to them and they will correct themselves instantly. Using your body language is key to signal your students that something is up!
The simplest form of promoting self-correction is to ask questions about the mistake that was made. If the student answers correctly, it should be clear that it is not an ingrained error, but simply a slip. No further action might be necessary.
Give student with a few sentences containing the mistake as well as some without the mistake. Get the student then to guess which one is correct.
Similar to the multiple choice one we just saw. Students have to decide whether a sentence the teacher calls out is correct or not.
Another way of presenting the mistakes you, the teacher, picked up on is through a story. Dictates a story containing the same mistakes that were heard during the activity and get the students try and find them all. Use a context with which the students can identify.
Students correcting each other can contribute to a conducive learning environment because this way students can see you are not the only source of correction and they can learn a lot fromore their classmates.
Mumford and Dam propose that while the students are talking, the teacher should draw a line on a graph which represents the students’ level of speaking quality. When mistakes are made the line goes down. When the students are speaking well, it goes up. Make sure to highlight the positives and the negatives.
Remember: SELF-correction is what we want!
As a final thought it is remember to keep in mind that we use correction as a tool to harness students’ self-awareness. Think of how you correct students and if it truly contributes to the self-correction aim.