For EFL instructors, how do you correct your learner's mistakes without discouraging them? Here are effective ways you can do to correct them effectively
As an EFL instructor, you have the responsibility of helping your students learn and confidently speak English. You need to help them understand words and concepts so that they can apply what they have learned by the end of your session.
Along the way, you will have to correct your students when they make mistakes. From a teacher’s perspective, giving corrections can be nerve-racking and uncomfortable; from a student’s perspective, receiving them can be unpleasant and even frightening. Nevertheless, there’s no denying that correction is an important part of every student’s learning experience. Furthermore, as a teacher, you must do it with care so as not to hurt your student’s confidence and morale.
To help you out, we are sharing five quick and effective tips in this article to help you correct your EFL students without running the risk of discouraging them from speaking English. Read on!
1. Avoid using negative statements.
As much as possible, refrain from using statements like a sharp, “NO, YOU’RE WRONG!” This can embarrass your learners and keep them from actively participating in the lesson. Additionally, this can add more pressure and stress to them, which could demotivate them.
You can be straightforward with the corrections, but you should be mindful of your words and the tone of your voice. Moreover, you must be aware of your body language. Do you shake your head or look obviously disappointed? Do you raise your voice unintentionally when your learner can’t get it right?
Negative ways of correction such as these could instill discouragement, shyness, or stress in your EFL learner—all of which are the exact opposite of what you should be achieving. As an online English teacher, remember to always be direct yet kind in how you instruct and correct your students. Point out the mistake in a gentle manner, explain why it’s wrong, and demonstrate how it should be done.
2. Don’t go overboard with the corrections.
Correcting your students is important, but constantly rectifying their mistakes can disrupt the flow of your lesson and cause them to be reluctant to participate.
If you are teaching with 51Talk, you will have lesson material which you have to cover for that particular session. While immediate correction is good, focusing too much on it to the extent that it takes a significant time off of your session can be counterproductive for your student.
3. Give clear instructions for corrections.
While you must not go overboard with the corrections, conversely, don’t let your students make the same mistakes without correcting them. Remember, not correcting your student will not benefit them!
Immediate correction is proven to positively enhance learning. A study found that students whose pronunciation was corrected immediately outperformed those whose pronunciation was corrected with some delay.
Aside from giving corrections promptly, you must also give these as clearly as possible. For example, if your student is finding it difficult to say a particular word, say the correct pronunciation and stress the tricky syllable if it helps. You may also ask them to repeat after you to make sure that they can follow.
4. Help them speak or use the topic of the lesson correctly.
Your ultimate goal for the session is to teach your students certain keywords or key expressions and help them use these.
However, if you’re an EFL tutor online, instruction can be significantly more challenging. Luckily, you can use gestures or visual aids to help your students grasp new words or topics easier, aside from the material you are provided with. Moreover, you can ask questions in a conversational style to encourage them to answer and practice using the new expression.
For example, if you want to check if your learner understood what the sentence, “Mike went to Disneyland last year,” means, you may ask them questions such as, “Where did Mike go?” or, “Did Mike go to Disneyland recently?”
Pay attention to how they answer and from there, point out the error respectfully, and teach them how to do it right. Most importantly, as they practice these new keywords or phrases, always be ready to help them and give them the encouragement they need to keep trying!
5. Focus on helping the students achieve the learning goal for each session.
English can be challenging for non-native speakers to grasp and master, so teaching them one concept at a time is very helpful.;
When you teach EFL online with platforms such as 51Talk, you have to cover a specific topic in the set time. The lesson material is designed in such a way that accommodates the average learner’s pacing by tackling one learning goal at a time. In this way, your student won’t be overwhelmed by the sudden volume of new information.
Focus on the topic at hand and prioritize corrections that are directly related to it until your learners are starting to use them comfortably. Give prompt instructions for other mistakes that your student commits as he/she practices, but don’t stray too far from the topic.
There may be diversions throughout the session, but always get back on track and work on the suggested learning activities with the student. Ultimately, stick to the session’s learning goal as much as possible for best results.
Error correction is part of every student’s learning process.
Your EFL student will need your guidance and assistance to be able to speak a foreign language accurately. However, keep in mind that the best approach is to strike a healthy balance and make English learning an enjoyable journey for your learner.
51Talk is looking for thousands of home-based online teachers to give one-on-one English lessons. You can earn up to Php80K as a full-time teacher and enjoy a wide range of perks –