The Free Stage. Aspect 2: reduce during-activity correction to the minimum.

The Free Stage. Aspect 2: reduce during-activity correction to the minimum.

As a TEFL trainee teacher at the Malaga TEFL centre, we will constantly be asking you to empathise with the students and put yourself in their place. Here’s an example. Think of yourself learning a new language and being asked to carry out a task while a teacher monitors. Let’s say the task is ‘Your girl/boyfriend wants to go with you to a concert of an artist you hate! Try to get out of going to the concert.’ and that your teacher is hoping you will spontaneously use the present continuous for definite arrangements, which is what you have just been studying.

You play the role of the one trying to get out of going to the concert and start to talk with your partner in an indirect way about how couples shouldn’t always have to do things together (with a view to leading into talking about what you really want!).

Your first sentence might try to be like this:
‘You know our friends, Don and Kate, well they were saying the other day that they’re going to different places on holiday this year for at least one week. They said how it’s good to get out of each other’s hair from time to time, and that actually they both wanted to do something that the other didn’t. That’s a good strong relationship to be able to do that, don’t you think?’

But, this example would probably suffer from quite a lot of error if a B1/B2 level student tried to say the same thing. Maybe it would be something like:
‘The1 friends, Don and Kate, said the other day that he’s2 going at3 different places on holiday this year for the minimum4 one week. They said how it’s good to get off from5 each other from time to time, and that at present6 they both want to doing something that the other does not. That’s a good strong relationship to can7 do that, don’t you think?’

Now imagine that your teacher corrects you every time you make a mistake:
  1. Incorrect use of definite article
  2. Pronoun corresponds incorrectly to subject (Kate and Don)
  3. Prepositional error; ‘to’ would be correct.
  4. Wrong word and incorrect use of wrong word
  5. Incorrect use of phrasal verb
  6. Misuse of register
  7. Failure to use the infinitive form of ‘to be able to’
The result will be:
  • you won’t get the chance to speak a non-interrupted long turn, hence impeding fluency development
  • you will automatically shift your concentration towards accuracy of expression, thus moving you towards ‘filtering’ your utterances through a mental pre-speech check, and taking your mind off what you want to say and putting more emphasis on how to say it
  • you will be less inclined to experiment with the language you learnt in order to avoid correction (and thus experience success)
  • the errors are the result of failing in different grammar areas, thus confusing you as you try to take on board all the different types of error being made
  • you will feel demotivated and error shy
Taking notes during the activity and looking for common shared errors occurring is the best way to correct, with feedback being given at the end and emphasis on the use of the target language (present continuous for future definite plans). In this case, giving praise for ‘…he’s going…’, but noting the error, and maybe drawing attention to error 7, which is a common mistake at intermediate level.


Tags: TEFL course in Malaga, correction, free stage
Posted on August 22nd, 2017


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