ACCURACY AND CORRECTING MISTAKES

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2. This talk:. How important is it for our students to be accurate in their language use? What is

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ACCURACY AND CORRECTING MISTAKES

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1. 1 ACCURACY AND CORRECTING MISTAKES Penny Ur ETAS 2010

2. 2 This talk: How important is it for our students to be accurate in their language use? What is ‘accurate’ or ‘correct’ usage’? Does error correction help? What kinds of corrective feedback are more/less effective? What are learner preferences? Summary and conclusions

3. 3 A. How important is it for our students to be accurate in their language use?

4. 4 What do you think? Would you agree or disagree with the following statements? It’s not important for students to spell English words correctly, as long as their meaning is clear. It’s not important for students to use correct grammar, as long as they are getting their message across. And why / why not?

5. 5 Accuracy is important because… …From the point of view of the hearer/reader, inaccuracy, even if it doesn’t affect meaning, is distracting, ‘jarring’ ‘discourteous’ may lower respect for the speaker/writer

6. 6 And because… … from the point of view of the speaker/writer, inaccuracy may lower self-confidence lower self-respect as a language user

7. 7 And because… …from the point of view of the teacher, professionalism means teaching the language as best we can.

8. 8 B. What is ‘accurate’ or ‘correct’ usage?

9. 9 Would you correct it? She ain’t here. He come. We spent a fortnight away. The people which … Frontal teaching I am waiting here for hours. They preponed the meeting It was a ‘red line’. In formal writing or speechIn formal writing or speech

10. 10 Local usage (1) She ain’t here. We spent a fortnight away. They preponed the meeting In formal writing or speechIn formal writing or speech

11. 11 Local usage (2) Frontal teaching It was a red line. In formal writing or speechIn formal writing or speech

12. 12 ‘Local variants’, not errors Thus, what NS English teachers employed in NNS countries tend to label as language ‘errors’ might not really be errors, but simply examples of ‘authentic’ or ‘real’ language use rooted in the social and cultural framework of their learners. Tan, 2005: 129 Tan is talking about variants in Thailand, based on concepts and figures of speech used in Tan is talking about variants in Thailand, based on concepts and figures of speech used in

13. 13 Learner errors / variants He come. The people which … I am waiting here for hours. In formal writing or speechIn formal writing or speech

14. 14 ‘Learner variety’, not errors ‘Despite the accumulating evidence against IL [interlanguage] theory, the literature on teaching English still regularly contains advice for teachers in both outer and expanding circles on how to reduce IL errors and how to reverse fossilization … there is still little if any awareness among TESOL practitioners and SLA researchers that learners may be producing forms characteristic of their own variety of English, which reflect the sociolinguistic reality of their English use, whatever their circle, far better than either British or American norms are able to do’. Jenkins, 2006: 168

15. 15 ‘Variants, not errors’ A popular approach today is that which sees forms such as she go as legitimate ‘variants’ among ELF speakers, not as ‘incorrect’. ‘Correct’ has become a politically incorrect term. Spirit of the times, ideological approach Not to be corrected, just awareness-raised. Spirit of the times, ideological approach Not to be corrected, just awareness-raised.

16. 16 Which would you correct? She ain’t here. He come. We spent a fortnight away. The people which … Frontal teaching I am waiting here for hours. They preponed the meeting It was a red line. In formal writing or speechIn formal writing or speech

17. 17 I would correct them all. …because I am a teacher.

18. 18 ‘Any kind of teaching is based on a kind of prescription, and it would be simply disingenuous, and also rather silly, to deny this’ Seidlhofer, 2006: 45 A breath of fresh air and commonsense: An applied linguist: but one who is clearly in touch with classroom realities (a rare breed, cf Widdowson, Swan!) A pity there aren’t more of them…A breath of fresh air and commonsense: An applied linguist: but one who is clearly in touch with classroom realities (a rare breed, cf Widdowson, Swan!) A pity there aren’t more of them…

19. 19 Why should we relate to these usages as incorrect? Students have a right to be taught the most useful, acceptable and important forms used for ELF worldwide. I don’t have time to teach everything: need to decide on priorities. Students want unambiguous guidance. We need a clear basis for classroom teaching, materials design and tests. No time for pussyfooting around; tell me what’s right and what isn’t, I don’t have time to learn all the variants and where each is appropriate. And it’s confusing. Time devoted to teaching variants is time deducted from the teaching of mainstream items. ‘acceptable becomes ‘correct’ TEAchers – so we need codification of internationally acceptable forms (a wiki?) 2 reasons; we don’t know them, we don’t have time. Inclusion of variants would make materials and test design unmanageable.No time for pussyfooting around; tell me what’s right and what isn’t, I don’t have time to learn all the variants and where each is appropriate. And it’s confusing. Time devoted to teaching variants is time deducted from the teaching of mainstream items. ‘acceptable becomes ‘correct’ TEAchers – so we need codification of internationally acceptable forms (a wiki?) 2 reasons; we don’t know them, we don’t have time. Inclusion of variants would make materials and test design unmanageable.

20. 20 So … Encourage awareness of and respect for different varieties of English. But these may not be acceptable for the students’ own emergent language production.

21. 21 But what are ‘correct’ forms? Most of these are obvious. For some, we guess, based on our own intuitions as fully competent speakers Grammars? Dictionaries? In the future: a ‘wiki’? See previous examples. A wiki? An international team, initiated by one of the associations or collaboration between them/ Where they don’t – that’s where we need the codification. I want to know there’s somewhere I can go to look sth up, for example have, have got. Have to be wary of BrE or AmE grammars; or corpora based only on NSSSee previous examples. A wiki? An international team, initiated by one of the associations or collaboration between them/ Where they don’t – that’s where we need the codification. I want to know there’s somewhere I can go to look sth up, for example have, have got. Have to be wary of BrE or AmE grammars; or corpora based only on NSS

22. 22 Conclusion (1) There is such a thing as ‘correct’ and ‘incorrect’, ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ usage in the context of English as a lingua franca. Where learners use incorrect or unacceptable forms, we should probably correct them. I might explain why I’m correcting something, i.e. explain that in certain contexts this might be correct – but still I’d relate to it to all intents and purposes as incorrect, just as I might correct colloquialisms in a formal essay. Adding explanations where appropriate depending on the learner. … which brings me to my next topic.I might explain why I’m correcting something, i.e. explain that in certain contexts this might be correct – but still I’d relate to it to all intents and purposes as incorrect, just as I might correct colloquialisms in a formal essay. Adding explanations where appropriate depending on the learner. … which brings me to my next topic.

23. 23 C. Does error correction help? In the sense of actually bringing about correction of errors. Distinction between ‘corrective feedback’ and ‘correction’. But I’m going to use interchangeably, takes too long to say corrective feedback every time! In the sense of actually bringing about correction of errors. Distinction between ‘corrective feedback’ and ‘correction’. But I’m going to use interchangeably, takes too long to say corrective feedback every time!

24. 24 The case against: Truscott (1999, 1996, 2006): correction does not work: Teachers correct inconsistently, sometimes wrongly Students are sometimes hurt by being corrected Students may not take corrections seriously Correction may interfere with fluency Learners do not learn from the correction Truscott, J. (1999). What's wrong with oral grammar correction?. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 55(4), 437-56. Truscott, J.. (1996). The case against grammar correction in L2 writing classes. Language Learning, 46, 327-369.Truscott, J. (1999). What's wrong with oral grammar correction?. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 55(4), 437-56. Truscott, J.. (1996). The case against grammar correction in L2 writing classes. Language Learning, 46, 327-369.

25. 25 Some responses Chandler, 2004 Ferris, 1999 Ferris, 2004 Lyster, Lightbown, Spada, 1999

26. 26 Teachers correct inconsistently, sometimes wrongly. i.e. Teachers are incompetent. But: Inconsistency is not a disaster. Teachers on the whole tend to correct correctly! Cf doctors sometimes give the wrong treatment and may be inconsistent – so they shouldn’t treat? Insulting to teachers. Cf doctors sometimes give the wrong treatment and may be inconsistent – so they shouldn’t treat? Insulting to teachers.

27. 27 Students are hurt by being corrected. There is considerable evidence that students feel that correction is part of the ‘rules of the game’ The ability to correct respectfully and supportively is a part of professional competence. My own research, details later, Harmer. Truscott says that what students want may not be what they should get. But Ferris and others say that should not dismiss students’ proclaimed preferences in that way. ‘What a lovely mistake, I’m so glad you made it.’ My own research, details later, Harmer. Truscott says that what students want may not be what they should get. But Ferris and others say that should not dismiss students’ proclaimed preferences in that way. ‘What a lovely mistake, I’m so glad you made it.’

28. 28 Students may not understand or take corrections seriously. Much of our teaching may not be understood or taken seriously… (instructing, explaining, questioning, activating) …So we should not teach? Mackey 2007Mackey 2007

29. 29 Correction may interfere with fluency. The procedures based on ‘Focus on form’ (Long and Robinson, 1998) use precisely this kind of ‘interference’. There is some evidence that learners want to be corrected when they make the mistake. But we need to know when to interrupt and when not. Again: a question of professional competence. Harmer’s researchHarmer’s research

30. 30 Learners do not learn from the correction. A key issue. Research evidence is controversial and sometimes contradictory: on the whole tentatively in favor. Learning from correction in any case is gradual and partial, not immediate and complete : we are all familiar with the phenomenon. Ethical problem in research Vygotzky, more and more awareness of AL research that shows they have learnt/ not learnt – a question of partial learning. See bibliography: we are all familiar with the phenomenon. Ethical problem in research Vygotzky, more and more awareness of AL research that shows they have learnt/ not learnt – a question of partial learning. See bibliography

31. 31 Conclusion (2) The effectiveness of corrective feedback is variable; may only work partially and gradually. But if there’s anything that is even less effective than correcting… …It is not correcting. . Ferris, D. R. (2004). The "Grammar Correction" Debate in L2 Writing: Where are we, and where do we go from here? (and what do we do in the meantime …?).. Journal of Second Language Writing, 13(1), 49-62. – what do we do in the meantime? Clear that we carry on correcting.. Ferris, D. R. (2004). The "Grammar Correction" Debate in L2 Writing: Where are we, and where do we go from here? (and what do we do in the meantime …?).. Journal of Second Language Writing, 13(1), 49-62. – what do we do in the meantime? Clear that we carry on correcting.

32. 32 D. What kinds of error correction are more/less effective?

33. 33 Research Lyster, R. & Ranta, L., 1997 Lyster, R., 1998

34. 34 Recast: just saying it right, without comment or explanation Elicitation: sentence-completion, or raised eyebrow, or ‘say that again’ Clarification request: meaning-focused: what did you mean (esp. when mistake leads to ambiguity or misunderstnding) Metalinguistic feedback: You need to use the present simple here, not the present progressive Explicit correction: You should have said ‘We study’ not ‘we are studying’ Repetition: repeating error, usually with a rising intonation or stress: We are studying?Recast: just saying it right, without comment or explanation Elicitation: sentence-completion, or raised eyebrow, or ‘say that again’ Clarification request: meaning-focused: what did you mean (esp. when mistake leads to ambiguity or misunderstnding) Metalinguistic feedback: You need to use the present simple here, not the present progressive Explicit correction: You should have said ‘We study’ not ‘we are studying’ Repetition: repeating error, usually with a rising intonation or stress: We are studying?

35. 35 RESULTS Simple ‘recast’ was most often used, but least ‘uptake’! Recasts may not be perceived as correction at all! The best results are gained from explicit corrective feedback + some active processing. Example: ‘pub’ interaction mentioned by Ellis. Example: ‘pub’ interaction mentioned by Ellis.

36. 36 The correction-during-communication paradox If we correct during communicative work unobtrusively so as not to harm communication – the correction may be ineffective. If we correct more effectively using explicit feedback and ‘processing’ – we may damage the communicative value of the activity. Discourage learners, interfere with fluency, change the focus of the activityDiscourage learners, interfere with fluency, change the focus of the activity

37. 37 What’s the answer? Professional teaching judgement, taking into account: The overall goals of the course How crucial / important the error is The frequency of the error The level of the student The personality of the student The motivation of the class overall to learn The excitement level of the activity i.e. not somehting that applied linguists know much abouti.e. not somehting that applied linguists know much about

38. 38 Conclusion (3) For optimum effectiveness, corrective feedback should a) be explicit b) involve some measure of active negotiation It may or may not be effective to correct during (oral) communication; this depends on a number of pedagogical considerations.

39. 39 E. What are learner preferences?

40. 40 A questionnaire-based survey Population: over 1,000 children learning English in State schools in Israel. Ages: 10 - 17

41. 41 Learners’ preferences in oral correction

42. 42 Learners’ preferences in written correction

43. 43

44. 44

45. 45 Conclusions (4) School-age learners want to be corrected. They feel corrective feedback is valuable They prefer explicit correction They understand the value of repeating / rewriting the correct form. They do not, on the whole, like to be corrected by their peers. Learners at least in the context definedLearners at least in the context defined

46. 46 SUMMARY It is helpful to distinguish between ‘correct’ and ‘incorrect’ forms rather than ‘variants’. It is on the whole helpful to provide corrective feedback. The most effective corrective feedback is explicit and involves some ‘negotiation’. Learners want to be corrected, and prefer explicit teacher feedback.

47. 47 Thank you for listening! [email protected]

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