Author: Deb Bullock | Published on 1 September 2022


Question: Should I correct all my learners’ speaking mistakes?

Answer: No. It depends on the activity aim, and the mistake. 

Correcting speaking is important. However, it’s not always clear when you should do it. Asking yourself these two questions will help.

1. What is the aim of the speaking activity? Is it to develop accuracy or fluency?

⇒If it’s accuracy, which language should be accurate? Your learners can’t focus on everything!

Tip: Tell learners what to focus on e.g. question forms. Say: “If I hear this mistake, I’ll wave my finger. Then you must correct yourself.” 

waving finger] 

⇒If it’s fluency, ask yourself, “Can I still understand? Is the message clear?”

Tip: Don’t correct if the message is clear. If it’s not clear, ask the learner to say it in a different way.

2. Have the learners studied this language?

⇒If they have, and the focus is on accuracy, use the self-correction gesture.

⇒If they haven’t, don’t correct. They are trying to communicate and may be experimenting with language.  

Tip: Make a note of the language learners need, but don’t yet have. Decide if you should give it to them.  

Now you can decide when to correct mistakes. 

Which correction techniques will you try?

See also