I’ve just got access to a short video made for the Teaching English British Council facebook page at IATEFL Manchester 2015 which I’d completely forgotten about! In it, I describe a method you can use to encourage students to notice mistakes they make in writing and try to reduce them. Unfortunately I can’t embed the video here, but I can give you the link to watch it. I’m not sure if you need to be logged in to facebook to see it, and I don’t know how to get around it if you don’t have a facebook account – sorry!
You can see examples of how I used this kind of error categorisation in my own Russian learning in the ‘Writing’ section of the post How I’m learning Russian (part 2).
Have you tried anything similar?
This activity came to me when I was trying to think of something for a stand-alone lesson on a Monday morning before new students joined our B1 Intermediate class. For a sudden idea, it worked surprisingly well, so I thought I would share it with you.
It’s based on the game ‘Consequences’. Each person writes one or two sentences, folds the paper and passes it to the next person. Nobody can see what has been written before.
Each student needs a piece of paper and a pen, and the teacher needs a list of questions. This was my list:
- What’s your name and where are you from?
- What do you like doing in your free time?
- Why are you learning English?
- What is your family like? (you could also say ‘Describe your family’ if the ‘is…like’ structure is too difficult)
- When was your last holiday? What did you do?
- What are you going to do this evening?
- What are your future plans? Is English important for your future?
- What is one thing you love and one thing you hate?
Students answered the questions one at a time, folded the paper and passed it on, then answered the next question. In the end, we had over one page of writing for each student, something which they are often reluctant to produce otherwise.
Here are some examples (click to enlarge):
Students then worked in small groups to read the texts and correct them. Because each piece of paper had writing from all of them, it didn’t feel like they were being targeted. They could also see that everyone in the class makes mistakes, not just them. I monitored and helped them with any questions, but generally they managed to correct most things without my help.
Once they had all looked at every piece of paper, I highlighted the remaining few problems (there were never more than six on any piece of paper) and they looked at them together. You can see these in pink on the examples above.
The whole activity prompted a lot of discussion about the grammar, spellings and meanings, and students were really motivated.