Error correction in english language

The Dos & Don’ts of Error Correction When Teaching English

If you’ve taught or tutored English (or any language), you’ve probably asked yourself on more than one occasion when, how, and even if, you should correct your students’ mistakes. While error correction in teaching English mainly depends on whether your lesson objective is fluency or accuracy (more on this below), in any case, there are certain key things to know when it comes to effectively – and sensitively – correcting your students’ mistakes in class.

If you’re new to teaching, you’ll want to get initial training and qualification with a TEFL certificate. You can explore our online TEFL courses to get started!

What is the difference between an error and a mistake?

You might be surprised to learn there’s a difference! Yet in teaching English, a distinction is made.


A mistake is an accident or a lapse, something that your EFL/ESL students actually know and that they can most likely self-correct if given the chance. This can be a typo, using the wrong word, or a small grammatical mistake.


An error, on the other hand, is something that your students don’t know because they haven’t learned it yet or they’ve forgotten it. This is where your students need you the most, in order to effectively correct their errors and help them develop their language skills.

What kind of errors do EFL/ESL students make in class?

Students make many mistakes during the long endeavor of learning a new language. This is a natural and necessary part of the learning process! As a teacher, it helps to identify the type of error in order to correct it effectively and smoothly.

Productive skills errors

Errors in spoken or written skills include vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammatical errors, as well as errors in producing intelligible language that can be understood globally.

Receptive skills errors

Errors in listening and reading skills include misinterpretation of content, misunderstanding of words, or simply the inability to comprehend someone’s speech in total.

You’ll learn more about other types of errors students make, such as global and local, in the Micro-credential course: Error Correction in the EFL Classroom.

When should I correct my students?

The timing of correcting students’ errors in teaching English is crucial to your lesson being a success or a fail. Error correction in EFL/ESL has a big impact on your students’ learning process and the right timing will help them retain new information effectively.

When to correct errors in fluency-based lessons

If you’re teaching a class or activity where fluency is the goal, try to monitor your students and take notes of major or repeating mistakes. Don’t interrupt your students’ speech. This might discourage them or make them lose the motivation to speak freely. Save the error correction for the end of the class.

At that time, you can give individual feedback or discuss the most important errors with the whole class if your students are okay with that. You could also prepare a quiz for the next lesson, touching on the major errors that you noted down while monitoring your students.

When to correct errors in accuracy-based lessons

If you’re teaching a class or activity that aims for accuracy, for example applying a new grammar rule during a conversation, you can correct immediately after the mistake has been made, assuming that it is a mistake about said rule. Since you just taught the content, you can encourage your students to self-correct their error first, or you can ask other classmates to help. Sometimes a gesture is enough to indicate the type of error. You don’t need to focus too much on mistakes students make that aren’t related to the current lesson, since this can again disrupt their efforts to use the newly learned grammar.

If you notice during the activity that your students are making the same errors over and over again, you might want to stop the activity, review the lesson content and resume the practice after making sure that all your students have understood the new rule.

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Dos and Don’ts of error correction

Here are some useful ground rules for error correction in the English classroom, whether you’re teaching online lessons or in a live classroom. For more detailed tips and tricks, check out the Bridge Micro-credential course: Error Correction in the EFL Classroom!

  • Be sensitive to your students’ needs and preferences. Ask your students at the beginning of your course which kind of error correction they prefer. (Many students like being corrected immediately because they can still remember their mistake and learn from it, while others only want to focus on fluency.
  • Be kind and patient in the way you correct. Always encourage your students to keep trying new language they’ve learned and assure them that making mistakes is okay. You want to encourage your students to speak and to experiment with what they’ve learned so far.
  • Give your students a chance to self-correct, or apply peer-correction in your classroom. Some students learn better when they’re corrected by their classmates instead of the teacher.
  • Use visual cues. Sometimes, simply raising your eyebrow can help your students realize that they’ve made a mistake and it gives them a chance to correct themselves. Establish your own gestures for common mistakes in tense, vocabulary, or sentence structure, such as pointing behind you to indicate a student needs to use past tense.


  • Don’t over-correct every single mistake your students make. Keep error correction relevant and make sure that your students benefit and learn from it.
  • Avoid interrupting your students when they’re making an effort to speak fluently. This can be very counter-productive and your students might lose their motivation or become hesitant to use the new language they’ve learned.
  • Never scold your students, become loud, or show your impatience with angry facial expressions. There are no silly mistakes in the EFL/ESL classroom! This is especially important if you’re teaching young learners, who easily pick up on moods and emotions.

The importance of error correction in the EFL/ESL classroom

We learn by making mistakes. As children, we learn how to walk by falling over hundreds of times. As adults, we learn a new language by making uncountable mistakes in the use of words, grammar, sentence structure, pronunciation, and register. The most important thing for you as an English teacher is to correct your students’ errors effectively and sensitively. Only then can you help them grow and develop their newly acquired language skills at their own pace and in a comfortable and safe environment.

Learn more about correcting students’ errors effectively

If you’re a new teacher and want to level-up your teaching skills as well as learn more about error correction techniques in the classroom, start with the comprehensive Bridge Master Certificate TEFL/TESOL course.

If you’re an experienced teacher, sign up for the Bridge Micro-credential course: Error Correction in the ESL Classroom to develop additional skills, and you’ll have the option to earn a digital badge to show off your credentials on your TEFL resume and social networks!

Micro-credentials are just one of the many resources that can enhance your TEFL/TESOL resume.

Post by Johanna Kawasaki

After backpacking Australia on a Working Holiday visa, Bridge graduate Johanna traveled to Japan for a year to teach English. She then moved to New Zealand for another two years before returning to her chosen home country, Japan, where she currently lives. Now, with more than eight years of professional English teaching experience, Johanna enjoys her expat life in Japan teaching teenagers at a private junior and senior high school, where she recently received tenure after only two years. When she’s not teaching, Johanna continues to travel regionally and explore new places.

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Error Correction

Что такое error correction?

Error Correction — одна из разновидностей заданий, проверяющих лексические и грамматические знания ученика. Суть задания: прочесть текст/предложение и найти в нем ошибку, если она есть. Существует довольно много вариаций Error Correction. В этой статье мы рассмотрим некоторые из них.

Поиск лишнего слова

Распространенный тип error correction — поиск лишнего слова. Такие задания входили раньше в состав FCE (в современном FCE их уже нет) и касались, в основном, грамматических ошибок. Например, в качестве лишних слов выступали артикли, предлоги, местоимения, вспомогательные глаголы и прочие «мелкие» слова.

В более сложных вариациях вставляются лишние слова, наполненные лексическим смыслом и являющиеся частями каких-нибудь хорошо известных выражений. Такие задания можно найти, например, в экзамене BEC.

Чтобы распознать лексические ошибки, нужно фокусироваться не только на отдельных комбинациях слов, но и на общем смысле. Часто делают так: берется хорошо известное слово, которое однозначно ассоциируется с каким-либо предлогом или глаголом, и вставляется в контекст, где присутствует тот самый предлог или глагол. Таким образом, создается иллюзия, что лексически все верно. Аналогично поступают и с грамматическими конструкциями. Например:

  • And that word, through the refining filter of Paris, is all I need to conjure up my mother: as she licked from her lips the residue of some oozing cream cake; as if she held up to herself, like some flimsy, snatched -up dancing partner, a newly bought frock: ‘Isn’t it just divine!’

Словосочетание as if само по себе не вызывает подозрений, это распространенная грамматическая конструкция. Только при оценке общего смысла можно понять, что if в данном предложении является лишним. Именно такие приемы наиболее распространены на олимпиадах.

Найдите лишнее слово:

There are thousands of verbs in English and the most of them are regular.

Ответом будет слово the, потому что этот артикль не используется вместе с ‘most of them’.

First task of all, you need to be sure that an event is really the best way to get your message across to customers.

Ответом будет слово task, потому что именно оно не вписывается в предложение. В английском языке нет сочетания ‘first task of all’, есть сочетание ‘first of all’. Соответственно, слово ‘task’ является той самой ошибкой, которую нужно найти и выписать.

Customer service is included every employee’s responsibility, and it should be a proactive rather than a reactive strategy.

Ответ: included. Слово ‘included’ здесь лишнее, поскольку существует выражение ‘to be somebody’s responsibility’. Кроме того, после included должен быть предлог, а в тексте его нет. При этом существует выражение ‘to be included’, что позволяет слову «маскироваться» и затрудняет поиск ошибки.

Другие виды ошибок

Нахождение лишнего слова — самый распространенный вид error correction, но не единственный. Помимо него есть, например, варианты, когда дается предложение с ошибкой, и нужно просто понять, есть ошибка или нет. Ошибка не обязательно будет в виде лишнего слова. Она может быть стилистической, лексической, пунктуационной, орфографической. Задания такого рода можно встретить, например, на экзамене SAT.

  • Because the coach was (A) so preoccupied on (B) developing and practicing trick plays, she did not spend (C) enough time drilling (D) the fundamental skills.(E) No error

В приведенном примере ошибкой является предлог on в пункте (B) — правильным предлогом будет with. В этом задании не требуется исправлять найденную ошибку, но бывают и такие, где требуется. Это, как правило, олимпиадные задания.

Где ошибка?

Although statistical methods can rarely prove (A) causality, they can frequently refute (B) theories by demonstrating that no correlation exists (C) between particular effects (D) and their presumed causes. (E) No error

В этом предложении ошибок нет. Правильный ответ — (E).

The project on nuclear energy that Jenna presented (A) to the science fair committee was (B) considered superior to the other students (C), and so (D) she was awarded the blue ribbon. (E) No error

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Правильный ответ — (C), поскольку слово students должно стоять в притяжательном падеже: students’.

Найти и исправить

Задания на исправление ошибок (не просто на нахождение, а именно на исправление) особенно многочисленны в олимпиадном мире и варьируются от достаточно простых до труднопроходимых.

В относительно простых заданиях текст разбивается на фрагменты (строки, предложения или абзацы), и в каждом фрагменте может находиться только одна ошибка. В более сложных вариантах никакой разбивки на фрагменты нет, и ошибкой может быть что угодно: как присутствие каких-либо слов, так и их отсутствие.

Иногда вам может быть предложено не только найти ошибки в слитном тексте, но также классифицировать их — определить, к какому типу они относятся (например, Tenses, Passive Voice, Spelling).

Если вам попадается задание, которое вы ни разу в жизни не встречали, не торопитесь нервничать: принципы поиска ошибок всегда одни и те же, независимо от особенностей формата. Нужно внимательно прочитать текст целиком, а затем идти по нему шаг за шагом и отслеживать все подозрительные моменты.

Найдите и исправьте 10 ошибок:

The drying East wind, which always had brought hard luck to Eastern Oregon at whichever season it blow, had combed down the plateau grasslands through so much of the winter that it was hard to see any sign of grass ever ​ grown on them. Even though March has come, it still blew, drying the ground deep, shrinking the watercourses, beating back the clouds that might delivered rain, and grinding coarse dust against the fifty odd head of work horses ​ that John brought down from his homestead to turn back into their home pasture while there was still something left of them. The two man, one past sixty and another around sixteen, shouldered the horses through the gate of the home pasture and drew up outside the yard that they had picked wrong time to come.

The drying East wind, which always had brought hard luck to Eastern Oregon at whichever whatever season it blow blew had combed down the plateau grasslands through so much of the winter that it was hard to see any sign of grass ever having grown on them. Even though March has had come, it still blew, drying the ground deep, shrinking the watercourses, beating back the clouds that might have delivered rain, and grinding coarse dust against the fifty odd head of work horses that John had brought down from his homestead to turn back into their home pasture while there was still something left of them. The two man men, one past sixty and another the other around sixteen, shouldered the horses through the gate of the home pasture and drew up outside the yard that they had picked the wrong time to come.

Где может встретиться Error Correction?

Error Correction часто встречается на олимпиадах по английскому языку. Оно встречалось и на Всероссийской олимпиаде школьников, и в СПбГУ, и в Плехановской, и в Челябинской, и в «Высшей пробе» — проще найти олимпиады, где этот формат не встречался.

Помимо олимпиад, error correction можно найти в экзаменах SAT и BEC, а также в старых тестах FCE (в новых FCE этот формат убрали).

Как тренироваться?

Чтобы успешно справляться с error correction, нужно владеть и грамматикой, и лексикой. Кроме того, необходимо уметь внимательно читать текст и бороться с одолевающими сомнениями.

Обычно в начале тренировок допускается много ошибок (точнее, ошибки в тексте выпадают из поля зрения). Однако сделав десяток-другой упражнений, человек начинает улавливать, где обычно следует искать подвох, и может найти уже большее количество ошибок. Так что в случае с error correction нужно не только развивать знание языка, но и тренировать скилл нахождения ошибок с помощью практики.


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