When we as teachers correct students, we discourage them from trying!
It is hard enough to get EFL students to practice speaking and writing without adding barriers. Try correcting them in disguise with positive re-enforcers or a more passive style. It might not come naturally to you at first, but with a little practice, you will never tell a student she is wrong again!
Try These 9 Simple Ways to Correct Your Students Without Correcting Them
If a student answers a question incorrectly or grossly mispronounces a word, fail to respond to him and rather stare blankly or with a raised eyebrow, like you heard no words. You will convey there was a failure in communication without correcting with your body language cues, and those cues are actually a more powerful way of encouraging a second, third, and even fourth attempt for a right answer. The student will naturally want to try harder to communicate with you.
“Is There Another Way to Say That?”
Do not tell her she is wrong, but ask if maybe there is another way (with the implication of better way) to answer your question or communicate. The question will trigger a thought process in which she scans her mental thesaurus.
“What Word Did We Learn Yesterday?”
This question inspires recall of lessons taught, and your student will not think you are correcting her, only seeking a different answer based on your lesson plans. It will trigger her brain to replace the incorrect word or usage with what you taught as well.
“Does Anyone Else Have A Thought?”
Do not correct your student, but immediately ask if anyone else has a different answer. Keep asking until someone gives you the right response. Positively respond to all of the participation, but very positively respond to the correct answer once you find it and stop asking for more answers. The final answer will sit in their heads as the best and the most correct.
“Who Else Thinks That Answer Is Correct?”
Turn it around on your students! Poll who thinks the answer is correct. The correct answer will emerge, but the student who was wrong will have commiseration from classmates that voted for her answer, diffusing the culpability in a lighthearted way.
“I Do Not Quite Understand You”
This phrase indicates that the student is on the right track, but is not quite conveying what he wants to communicate. He will keep trying and rephrase his words or try another grammatical construction naturally to attempt to explain. This is much more effective than “That is not how you say that” or other negative correction tools.
Nod in agreement with the student and then repeat what she is trying to say correctly. This shows she said it well enough to be understood and that her communication was relayed, but the correct pronunciation or grammar will stick in her mind. For example, if she asks, “I go to bathroom?” say, “Can I go to the bathroom? Yes you can go to the bathroom.”
Ask Someone Else
If someone answers incorrectly, just ignore her and ask someone else until you receive the right response!
A Game with Rewards
Do not correct wrong answers, but reward the right answer. This is the oldest teacher trick to inspire participation. Give candy, points, prizes, etc. if students answer you correctly, but do not even acknowledge wrong answers.
With a little bit of practice, you can succeed at never correcting your students but always finding the right answer! You will notice higher participation in your activities as well as increased learning in your classroom by employing these techniques and always making wrong right.