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Feedback on Language or Student-Friendly Error Correction


Error correction is a pressing problem for any teacher and solving this problem could be rather painful for students and teachers alike. How can teachers encourage better accuracy without demotivating their students to speak or write in English? Here are some of our favourite delayed error correction techniques to help your students speak better English.


Delayed open-class error correction

During a speaking or a writing activity the teacher monitors students’ work and make notes of their mistakes. As the activity is drawing to an end, the teacher writes the sentences with mistakes on the board for the learners to correct. If you have some time to spare, you may as well have the students do this in pairs and then ask for their answers in an open-class.


  1. Make sure that you also include some instances of good language use, i.e. sentences without mistakes to praise learners for producing accurate language.
  2. Prepare the board while students are still working, not after they’ve finished, not to waste their time.
  3. It’s possible not to write sentences with mistakes, but give learners options to choose from to complete the sentence correctly; or insert gaps into sentences to make this activity more engaging and achievable for all learners, even weaker ones, e.g. When he arrived to/at/in the station, they train had left. OR When he arrived _____ the station, the train had left.


Delayed error correction on post-it notes

As with the previous technique this can be done during speaking activities and for language feedback on writing done in class and at home. While monitoring or after checking students’ writing, the teacher writes down errors on post-it notes (for every student with their name), underlines mistakes and indicates what the problem is using correction code below:

  • WO – word order
  • WW – wrong word
  • Gr – problem with grammar
  • Art – wrong or missing article
  • T – wrong tense
  • Pron – pronunciation error
  • P – punctuation mistake


  1. Make sure the students are familiar with the writing code
  2. Encourage them to ask questions after the lesson if they don’t know how to correct the mistake.


Common error cards

The teacher makes notes of common mistakes during lessons and writes the most common ones on cards which are kept in the classroom. The students work with cards in small groups and correct the mistakes when there’s some time left at the end of the lesson, e.g. ‘I think that playing computer games is more better’ (Gr.).


  1. Use the correction code (mentioned above) to show where the problems are in the sentences written on the cards.
  2. When you see that the students no longer make the mistakes you wrote on the cards, you can remove the cards from the stack.
  3. This could be a useful classroom routine to start or finish lessons.