Here’s my strategy. There are two parts: First, I like to have a correction guru, somebody who becomes my go to person who can tell me what I’m saying wrong. Second part, I like to ask my correction guru to simply listen to my speech, jot a few notes down, and then at a separate time we sit down together to review notes.
The logic behind my strategy is based on the fact that I totally believe that language learners need to have the freedom to make lots of mistakes. Let’s keep on talking and talking, get our meaning across, and keep the conversation flow going. Since I believe in allowing for lots of mistakes, nothing is more frustrating than to be constantly reminded of those mistakes–in the moment. In other words, let me make my mistakes, but if the purpose of my communication, for example, is to buy flowers at the flower shop, then let me buy my flowers and don’t bother me about my adjective endings.
However, focused correction sessions from my correction guru seem to help things stick in my brain better. I enjoy the interval of time between production and correction. It almost creates a feeling of “OK, got that. Check it off. I won’t make that mistake again.” If I didn’t have a correction session, the lack of feedback would mean that I’d probably get stuck at the same level forever, making the same mistakes.
On the opposite end, I remember in college a professor who corrected every mistake we would make, while we were discussing other topics. It was extremely frustrating to be trying to give an opinion about a reading, and to simultaneously be corrected with grammar hints at every turn. It got to the point where I would have a knot in my stomach, knowing that I was going to be corrected every time I spoke. No doubt this professor thought that she was helping us to improve. For me it was simply an experience in frustration.
So the bottom line, give me a correction guru, have this person jot down a few notes about my mistakes, and a some point we’ll sit down and have a little focused chat. There is a time for correction, but it is not in the middle of my conversations. To all of my correction guru, thanks for your help.
And the picture, when did Coca Cola get so smart that they started making bottles with common family names? That’s genius! I recently took this picture in Lima, Peru.