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Thursday, August 18, 2016 (read 1400 times)

How to deal with errors in the Spanish classroom

by Esther

How to deal with errors in the Spanish classroom

Errors are a fundamental part of learning

Some students feel frustrated and uncomfortable when they make mistakes in class, and when the teacher corrects them they may become embarrassed and stop participating. For that reason, it is very important to tell students from the very first day that making mistakes is a part of the learning process: that we can't learn without errors, and that in fact self correction and peer correction are essential tasks. In order to foster positive feelings about errors, it's also important to negotiate with students about when and how they want to be corrected in order to minimize our students' negative feelings about error correction. In this way, we can begin to change the negative perceptions that students have about making mistakes and simultaneously help them see errors as a natural part of the Spanish language class.

When to correct

As teachers, we must only correct in appropriate moments or situations. To correct constantly throughout class will hurt – and ultimately halt – our students' attempts to express themselves in Spanish.  The ideal moment to correct is at the end of the student's intervention. Or you can wait until the end of the task, present the errors to the group, and let them be the ones to identify the corrections.

In shorter student interventions, it is very difficult to correct, and we should only do so if it is relevant to the task or activity at hand; if not, it's preferable to make a note and discuss it with the student later. Alternatively, we can also make a list of all the errors made by the group and present them in a post-lesson correction session.

How to correct

While it's important to encourage self correction and group correction, we must also make personal and individual corrections whenever possible, for example, in the case of a student who is making errors at an inferior level than the rest of the class.

There are many techniques for correction, for example:

  • Correct or emphasize: ¿el mesa? ¿EL mesa?
  • Requests to clarify: ¿has dicho el mesa?
  • Reformulation: la silla está al lado de LA MESA.
  • Direct correction: es la mesa, no el mesa.
  • Using metalanguage: fíjate en el artículo de la palabra mesa, es femenino.
  • An errors game: make a board game like Candyland, in which students have to correct errors in order to advance (ideal for levels A1 and A2).
  • Correction sessions: errors are presented and students have to correct them in groups.

It is also extremely important to be careful with the tone we use when correcting; it must never be aggressive or condescending.

What to correct

We must correct all types of errors, not just grammatical and lexical, but also the syntactical, which refer to the appropriate use of register or cultural elements. But, don't forget, there's no need to correct all errors: just those relevant to the task at hand and, of course, the level of the students.

And what about you, how do you correct your students? How would you like a teacher to correct you? Go ahead and share your thoughts in the comments sections of this post.



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