Your student makes a mistake, and you hear an alert siren in your head, right? You explain the error at the end of your lesson, or you correct it immediately depending on the situation. We are aware that errors affecting the accuracy can and should be corrected while fluency-affecting errors can be ignored. Well, that is the accepted truth.

However, some of you will agree that even if we explain and drill some errors, they are fossilized, and students keep repeating them. As you see, some rules may not work.

Here is what my experience has taught me.

We should not correct the following errors:

1. Errors that affect the confidence of a student

For adult learners, it is difficult to gain enough confidence in interacting in a foreign language. I have learned to ignore some mistakes when I see that my student is happy to function in the language. I praise and motivate, instead of correcting. However, I make notes for myself, and later I refer to the same task mentioning some requirements for the task.

For example, I ask my student to prepare a speech about her/ his last holiday. It is not easy for them as they feel less confident; they do not have the experience of giving a long-run speech. I will ignore the fact that they are using the present tense. However, after some lessons, I will give them another task which will target past tense and will ask to use the past tense.

2. Errors in the beginning and at the end of the lesson

When you set the mood and the tone of the lesson, try to ignore the mistakes. A student must step in the lesson with pleasure, confidence, and motivation.

The end or wind-down of the lesson should have the same tone and inspiration. A student should leave the lesson with a positive mood and confidence.

3. Errors that are of a higher level than the student’s level

There can be situations when a student makes a mistake, but this mistake belongs to a higher level. There is no need to correct those mistakes as the student anyway will not understand the mistakes.

4. When a student is not in the mood and seems tired

A student is a human and it is natural that from time to time they may feel tired, bored, demotivated. Do not act as a teacher who is there to correct the mistakes. Let the student speak, do those tasks that he or she wants, show your sympathy. You can think that it is not professional, and you are not acting as a psychologist. And here is my answer. Yes, you should not. While you “sacrifice” the lesson for the student to regain his motivation and energy, you are planning the next lesson based on the mistakes your student has made.

5. Errors that will take longer to explain and drill

If you have a clear plan and learning objectives, do not spend the lesson to explain errors that will take a long time. You will lose the quality of your lesson and the quality of your explanation. You will need enough time to explain and drill enough to master it. It will be more reasonable if you have a special lesson to explain those mistakes. You will not lose the current lesson, you will not lose the quality of error correction.

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