Friday, June 26, 2015

How much correction is enough

When teaching more complex structures in class, such as conditionals and time clauses, creative work becomes a great tool to build students’ confidence in the language and encourage them to use their own ideas to apply English in context yet as a free practice. I have always liked to let them create their own stories and, of course, let their imagination be the best instrument in the process, in most cases, getting them into a fictitious situation such as being advertisers, scientists, journalists or managers.

However, one of the most difficult things to do is correcting such creative works in an objective way that do not threaten students’ self-trust, especially with the less imaginative individuals. Thus, the best approach in these situations is limiting my vision to only and only the structures we have been working with and eliminating the voice in my head that keeps telling me there are other items wrong in the work presented.

For example, in the picture I used for this article the main purpose of this group of three pre-intermediate students was to create an ad for a completely new product they want to sell in the market, using the first conditional and time clauses. As for the use of the grammatical structures, relating ideas and overall meaning, the sentences were excellently written with a clear and accurate use of the language; not to mention I completely loved the concept of the product! Even though, as it is clear when you read the first two sentences, there are a couple of spelling mistakes as in “youre” instead of “your” and “different” instead of “difference” which were objectively pointless to correct in this particular case.

All in all, when it comes to checking students’ free practices, I really believe it is much better to keep it to correcting structures that are being reviewed and applied in context and simply forget about other mistakes that otherwise could probably discourage your students from whatever exercise they are doing. What is most important is make them feel good about their learning process and language use and leave corrections to only the structures involved in the lesson.