Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Resources On ESL/EFL/ELL Error Correction

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'error 404' photo (c) 2009, Luis Fernando Pienda Mahecha - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

I’ve been doing some research on the controversial issue of error correction (primarily grammar-related) and English Language Learners. In my book, English Language Learners: Teaching Strategies That Work, I talk about some of the research. In it, I share my belief in using little overt correction with individual students and, instead, collect examples of student errors and use them in regular classwide inductive learning and game activities (without identifying who made the errors). In addition, I talk about the use of Dialogue Journals and “recasting” student errors.

In my upcoming ELL book, I talk a bit more about the topic, too.

I thought readers might find it useful to see links to some of the research on the topic that’s available online, including ones that take a different perspective on the topic than I do.

Feel free to offer additional suggestions in the comments section, including your own practice and experience with error correction.

Here are my choices for The Best Resources On ESL/EFL/ELL Error Correction:

Dr. John Truscott is well-known for his critiques of over grammar error correction. This page has a number of links to his online papers.

I particularly like his article in The International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching.

Principles and Practice In Second Language Acquisition by Stephen Krashen talks a lot about error correction.

How do you deal with fossilized errors and help students improve their accuracy? is a summary of a great ELT Chat.

I always value what EFL teacher Dave Kees has to say about any subject, including error correction.

Error Correction in ESL: Learner’s Preferences is an article from the TESL Canada Journal.

Deciding What and When to Correct is from An ELT Notebook.

This Better Or Worse comic illustrates the dangers of error correction.

Here’s an Error Correction story I’ve previously posted.

Dave Dodgson has written about error correction. I especially like his suggestion of the teacher writing a paragraph incorporating common student mistakes and then having them correct it in small groups.

Making Mistakes & Error Correction is from TEFL Geek.

Error Correction Preferences in Written Work of Higher Secondary Students: an Evaluation is a good summary of some ESL/EFL/ELL research.

“What are errors and how should we deal with them in our classes?” is a collection of responses from ESL/EFL teachers around the world.

Delta Notes 1: Error Correction is by Lizzie Pinard.

Oral corrective feedback is from the ELT Journal, and gives a pretty good overview of related research.

Correcting writing: 8 practical ideas is from TEFL Reflections.

As always, feedback is welcome.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

5 Comments

  1. Happy Labor Day, Larry! with time to read your post on the day it pops up in my Inbox.
    My error correction story: It was my second term of teaching beginning writing. After our first in-class writing activity, I took the 28 writings home to correct. (Adjuncts do homework/class followup at home – more comfortable than sitting near the trunk of my car – my “office” at the time. I digress.) The next morning, I wrote a couple of sentences on the chalkboard that were examples of common grammar mistakes I had found in the writing. Class discussion proceeded. After class, a quiet Japanese teenager waited after class. (I am still thankful that I didn’t rush him.) After a few false starts, his eyes teared up (and you know how rare that is!) and he thanked me for not pointing out that HE had written those sentences. Then he hung his head. I don’t know if he believed me when I told him that the mistake-laden sentences were the same across the class, but they were.
    Since then I’ve bent over backward not to publicize the “owner” of a mistake. I do have two categories of mistakes, however, so I am heard to say, “That’s a GOOD mistake. You’re close. Think about …. ” and “Hmmm. Let’s see. (to another student) What do YOU think?” and then I ask three or four other students, even if I hear the “right” answer on the second try. I’m hoping that by the time three or four have answered, the mental focus is on the issue, not the student.
    Thanks for what you do every day, Larry. Do you sleep?!?

  2. Hello Larry,

    I just found your blog while doing a little research for esl/efl error correction. I have been teaching a TOEIC Speaking class at a university in Korea for the past year and have started ‘pre-correcting’ students on errors I know they are going to make. I am not sure if this approach is effective (in the literature) or if it has been in my classroom. I would like to do a small study next semester comparing two classes – one in which I pre-correct and one in which I do not. From my initial online research I have found a lot of papers on error correction, but nothing (so far) on pre-error (pre-emptive?) error correction. Is this a gap in THE literature or my searching? Any thoughts or esources would be appreciated. th

  3. Thanks for your reply,
    Looks like I might have a new ‘field’. In monolinguistic/monocultural Korea it is quite possible to ‘know’ what errors students will make before they make them. I have really noticed this with the TOEIC Speaking class/test. I have started pre-teaching/trying to preempt these errors, as I said I am not sure of the effectiveness, but hopefully a little action research next semester will lead to some answers and a paper.

    Thanks again.

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