Here are a few more ways of giving corrective feedback on learners’ written work, this time focusing on ensuring that they clearly understand where they have made mistakes and which of these were most serious.
1) Praise / Correction Box
- At the end of the piece of writing, the tutor writes a box with notes of the main areas in which errors have been made (particularly repetitive errors and those aspects which affect the grade, if one is being given), and aspects of the work that are particularly strong. The students can then re-draft their own work and work to correct errors in the areas specified, or simply refer to this box when writing their next assignment (then the tutor doesn’t have to check re-drafts).
- Such a box may look like this:
|– Strong topic sentences that introduce paragraphs neatly.||– Indiscriminate use of ‘will’ to refer to future|
|– Good use of transitions||– Erratic use of definite articles|
(Bartram, M. & Walton, R., Correction: A Positive Approach to Language Mistakes (Hove: Language Teaching Publications, 1994), pp. 82-3.)
2) Hot cards
- With each piece of work handed back, students receive a ‘hot card’ with the top 3 (or however many the tutor thinks appropriate) areas of mistakes – rather like in the correction box above. Students can use these to direct their proof reading in future writing, and can collate them to see the most frequently made errors. Extra homework can then also include doing some separate exercises specifically on the areas that occur most often on their hot cards.
- If invoice books are used to write out hot cards for each student, the tutor can also keep a record of the most frequent errors.
(Bartram, M. & Walton, R., Correction: A Positive Approach to Language Mistakes (Hove: Language Teaching Publications, 1994), p.87.
3) Native Speaker examples
- Reformulating students’ utterances instead of merely underlining or correcting them provides students with more examples of ways to express their ideas more naturally. Sometimes, students’ writing can be virtually mistake-free but still not sound natural – providing alternative formulations of what they have written helps them to learn a more natural writing style.
- To save time when providing examples, look at a sample of a student’s work together in class and compare it to the tutor’s/native speaker’s reformulation, and ask students to assess the differences.
(Bartram, M. & Walton, R., Correction: A Positive Approach to Language Mistakes (Hove: Language Teaching Publications, 1994), pp. 90-1.
- The Upside of Errors: When and Why to Avoid Correcting Your Students (bilingualismsig.wordpress.com)
- How To Mark Written Work Effectively – Using Underlining (clareseltcompendium.wordpress.com)
- 8 Steps for Correcting Mistakes in an Essay (return2writing.com)