The library of reflective teachers: professional teacher toolkit for successful error correction
Among the universal roles ascribed to teachers around the world, the role of a teacher as a linguistic researcher carrying out his/her own scientific research in the classroom laboratory has been emerging from the landscape of language learning and teaching for the last few years. With that shift of thinking has come a renewed focus on the English lesson as an area of uncovered learning and teaching possibilities. In the face of these inspiring changes, there comes to teachers’ minds some scores of crucial questions still unresolved. One of them is following: to correct our students’ attempts in producing a foreign language or not to correct?
There have been numerous attempts to identify the characteristics of successful error correction, however the worldwide research shows that error correction may be successful and may contribute a great deal to our students’ learning processes when it is a teacher’s conscious reaction to a certain state of the interlanguage represented by a certain student.
This is perfectly explained by Patsy Lightbown, Nina Spada, Rod Ellis and Julian Edge, whose works are described and recommended below to all the teachers who want to experience some fresh pleasure in delivering their daily lessons. The reviews constitute a proverbial toolkit for professional teachers who want to develop their knowledge of TEFL methodology as well as awaken their enthusiasm, curiosity and criticism towards different learning situations that take place in their labs.
Nick Ellis, in his book entitled Second Language Acquisition (Oxford University Press 2000), carefully explains the assumptions concerning the idea of interlanguage (interim) and itemizes the sequence of grammatical morphemes that are acquired by the students according to an inborn order. The explanations provide empirical validation for the influence the exact choice and sequence of activities may exert on the students’ process of foreign language acquisition. The careful reflection may lead the inquiring teachers to the very root of successful error correction. The author also applauds the value of teacher instruction and its professional construction in the process of foreign language acquisition. Language is presented by Ellis as a living structure that can be carefully and consciously formed among students by reflective teachers.
This all calls for a different way of interpreting the influence of L1 on L2 (the process known as language transfer) and looking at it as an indicator of students’ language development. In their book entitled How Languages Are Learned (Oxford University Press 2007), Patsy Lightbown and Nina Spada enumerate and discuss some sample grammatical morphemes whose careful observation and analysis may help teachers diagnose students level of linguistic proficiency. Being linguistically aware, teachers can select to teach the grammatical structures according to the abilities presented by their students. The last chapter of the aforementioned book contains the answers to the most common questions concerning the process of the second language acquisition.
The third book in our professional teacher toolkit concerning error correction is Mistakes and Correction (Longman 1994) written by Julian Edge whose detailed treatment of error correction techniques will give the teachers a perfect insight into the mechanisms of interlanguage development and its effects. The suggestions and solutions concerning teacher correction, peer correction and self correction provided by Julian Edge may appear to be extremely useful teaching tools in all the classroom labs. The analysis of the above methodological works will certainly help teachers to get into the flow of their research work and gain some new professional experience in their own classrooms.
Instytut Języka Angielskiego,
Zakład Akwizycji Języka