(Image taken from: http://theheat.dk/blog/?p=1753)
There are so many things written on the area of Error Correction. It is Scott Thornbury (2006, 56), among others, who writes that “[t]he amount and type of correction favoured by teachers is closely related to the teacher’s attitude to error, which is in turn influenced by the teacher’s theory of language learning.”
Indeed, there are teachers who are in favour of hot correction (correcting the learner the minute they make an error) and others who prefer cold correction (waiting for the student to finish the task and then provide the correction.
Then, the years went by, we learned better and focus was shifted on the learners themselves. Thus, it wasn’t the teacher who offered the corrections; it was the students themselves either in the form of self-correction (learners correcting themselves) or peer-correction (learners correcting one another).
Lately, we have come to a very basic but extremely useful understanding: there is no one single right way to go. Teachers have all the techniques at hand and are ready to use the most appropriate one according to the particular learner(s)’s needs.
What are the implications of such a decision? Again, there are many arguments for and against each of the above mentioned ways of correcting learners’ errors, most of which are based on empirical research and extensive studied. My own question, though, is what are the effects of our decision not in relation to the learner’s learning process(es) but on the learner’s personality.
Can anyone deny that we function as role models for most – if not all – of our learners? Is it possible that by providing a hot correction we do much more than interrupting the learner from doing a particular task and offering the correct version of their error?
Here are some thoughts on the effects of different correction techniques on the learner’s personality:
Hot Correction: The learner learns that errors are wrong and that there will always be someone to point this out and, potentially, embarrass them. At the same time, when the learner comes across another speaker’s error, they tend to interrupt and correct them on the spot.
Cold Correction: The learner learns that attempting to perform a task is more important than making errors. However, they also know that there will always be someone to spot the errors and correct them, eventually.
Self Correction: The learner learns that they are completely responsible for performing a task and for monitoring themselves while performing the task. Help is provided by none other than their own selves.
Peer Correction: The learner learns that they belong to a society where one is helping the other and that it is through this each other’s support that improvement can be achieved.
So, what this post is trying to prove is that making a decision in class may have many implications (well, that’s old news) not only to the learners as learners but also to their personality, which adds to the significance and the importance of our actions and choices.
Thornbury, Scott. An A-Z of ELT: A Dictionary of Terms and Concepts Used in English Language Teaching. Oxford: Macmillan Education, 2006. Print.