Every teacher knows that error-correction deserves special attention in language teaching. No surprise there is quite a lot of academic research into the nature of errors and how they should be corrected as well.

Given the amount of theory dedicated to error analysis and correction, teachers are never alone when they face challenges regarding the issue. However, it may not always be easy for them to decide which ideas to consider or techniques to adopt considering the circumstances that apply in various teaching environments.

Until a couple of months ago, I was not sure whether I should be the only source for correct language or allow my students to correct errors by themselves. I was mostly concerned with issues such as time management, adequacy of learner knowledge for providing correction, and my own role as the teacher.

Little Boy Thinking

I was worried I might not be able to cover the syllabus within a confined time limit and my students might assist their friends more in fossilization of errors then aid them to learn the correct form and use.

I also kept asking “What am I doing then if students do all the correction work?” and assumed it would be better when everything is done by me.

 Then the moment of illumination came when one day I had to analyze an activity along with the assumptions that underlie the approach by which it was designed. It was one of the tasks I had to do as a part of my DELTA training.

 Needless to say, I found myself covering a range of related-literature by experts such as Jeremy Harmer, Scott Thornbury, Rod Ellis and Stephen Pit Corder to name only few. In addition to library work, I had to do a lot of searching on the web, too and came up with useful ideas and even techniques to be able to prepare the task. You may also click on the links that follow to learn more about error correction:









It is safe to state, as a result of all the reading and application of the ideas I have discovered, that students learn much better when they are allowed to correct their and each other’s errors. The frequency of any type of error also diminishes in time, and they doubtlessly get more confident with their use of language.

Now I am aware that:

1. Teachers are not the only source of correct language for sake of autonomy.

2. Learners benefit from working in collaboration as they take responsibility for their own learning, and it means they are cognitively involved.

3. Learners pay better attention to correct language when error correction is integrated into learning.

4. Learners discover that it is possible to learn from each other’s mistakes.

5. Language drawn from learner output makes learning more meaningful for learners.

6. Correct language is noticed better when contrasted with defective language.


And finally, maybe the most importantly, learners view errors as a positive learning experience, which is very likely to let them see language learning as a process and mistakes only lead to new skills developed when not feared.



  1. Thank you for this post and all the resources and ideas you’ve shared. Error correction is something I’m struggling and experimenting with in my writing classes these days. I’ve bookmarked your post to come back to it again and again for inspiration!

  2. Çağdaş,

    A good post – and I loved the resources you shared with others, too.

    Yes, the key point of the post is that teachers do not (cannot) hold all the cards when it comes to the “management” of student errors.

    We all LEARN by “screwing up”…and TEACHers need to “let” students screw up – more importantly, we need to let them know that “discovering” how they screwed up, why they did it…and how “fixing” the screw-ups (ourselves) makes us better LEARNers 😉

    This is LEARNing….real LEARNing – the “business” we are all supposed to be in 😉

    Take care,


    • Tony! A million thanks for taking time to write a comment on the post. That you like it means a lot to me and it gives me the inspiration to go on sharing my humble opinion.

      All the best,


  3. This is a really interesting perspective, I find that students have a very hard time editing and correcting their own work, however, even with a checklist and asking them to reread for errors for each type of mechanic they are checking against.

  4. I wasn’t sure if my other comment posted, but I find this article really interesting. I also find that my students have a hard time reflecting and looking over their writing to find their own errors.

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