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MOCK-UP STUDY: WHAT DO STUDENTS THINK ABOUT OBSERVED MISTAKES?

PROFESSOR: LUIS CADENA BEJARANO

STUDENTS: ALFREDO VILLANUEVA CARRASCAL LUIS MIGUEL MOLINA DE LA HOZ

UNIVERSIDAD DEL ATLNTICO FOREIGN LANGUAGES PROGRAM 2013

1- Introduction Around the process of learning a foreign language, we all go through different circumstances, some, more difficult than others. Sometimes, we can feel comfortable with the language that we are learning, but in most cases we go through some moments where we can feel embarrassed, frustrated and feel that our effort is unsuccessful. These situations arise when we make mistakes, which often we do not know, and sometimes, we feel that we make them so many times that we get frustrated to the point that we stop learning that language. For this reason, we have carried out a study to identify the types of errors and the different ways that the teacher can use to know when, how, and if necessary to correct them. This Mock-up study has been carried out in order to know what the opinions of students are about the mistakes observed in the different schools. In this concise and complete study, we have collected the opinions of 5th semester students of the Universidad Del Atlntico. These opinions will be analyzed and compared in order to find out more information about types of error and how to correct them. Throughout this study, we could identify some factors such as types of errors, who should correct them and how, when and how often should these errors be corrected. Here, we are presenting a summarized and concise study with main results and conclusions.

2 - Theoretical framework We are teachers, but we are also managers, referees, entertainers, clown and even psychologists in a classroom; we will call the students self -esteem baggage so, we are also baggage handler, we deal with the emotional baggage our students carry with them when they go to school. Inside this baggage, we can find what can stand in the way of the students learning and enjoy the process of learning; of taking risks in the classroom; of taking on and meeting challenges.

One of the situations in where we can cause damage to these bags is when it is time to correct spoken mistakes. The fragile adolescent egos do not react well to anything they consider as criticism, and they very easily pile those bags into the high walls. Too much correction, the student gets frustrated, gives up, and tunes you out. Not enough correction and you have done these students a disservice and they find out later that they really do not know what they should and do not have the skills they thought they had.

So, what do you do? To answer this, we looked different theories about what we have to do in case of correcting mistakes and how to avoid this.

Learners and teachers have different preferences concerning error correction and giving feedback. Nunan (1988) reports, adult learners in Australia viewed error correction as very important, whereas their teachers did not value it as highly. Similar findings have been found elsewhere (Jack C. Richards and Charles Lockhart, 1997). It is also very important to know for teachers when and how to correct errors. All wright and Bailey (1991) note that teachers often correct a learners utterance simply because it was not what they had expected to hear, which are referred as error of classroom discourse. They also point out that the teachers are trying to help students move ahead in their inter language development. Mistimed error treatment may help and it can even be harmful if the correction is aimed at structures, which are beyond the learners stage in inter-language development (Jack C. Richards and Charles Lockhart, 1997). Moreover, Gower, Phillips and Walters report that the correction depends on the aim of activities. If the focus is on accuracy, the teachers control and correction will be tight and if the focus is on more fluency then the teachers direct control and correction will be less (Gower, Phillips and Walters, 1995).

According to Harmer (1998), correction helps students to clarify their understanding of the meaning and construction of the language. Teachers should be concerned how to correct students as one way may be appropriate for one but may not be appropriate for another. Sometimes students can correct themselves

as the error is just a slip. Again, students sometimes need help of the teacher. He also refers that during this time teachers can ask to correct another student. If the other students help out to solve the error, the students who made the mistake may not fell humiliated. Sometimes students also prefer a gentle correction from the teacher. Harmer (1998) also suggests that it is important to praise students for their success and to correct them for their failure. In this way teachers positive attitude can dramatically change students performance irrespective of their level and types of errors.

3 - Method Before starting this study, we asked some 5th semester students of the Universidad Del Atlntico questions, in order to know what were their opinions about students common errors and their ways in which the teacher could make corrections. In this study, we have applied a qualitative method; this is the most appropriated method for this kind of study due to the type of questions we have used. Those questions were addressed to students to know what they think about errors. Using this method we can analyze and compare their personal opinions so that we could provide better results.

3.1 Participants The participants selected to answer the questions of this study were students of 5th semester of the Foreign Language Program of the Universidad Del Atlntico. They are two students with ages ranging from 19 to 22 years old. They both are women. 3.2 - Instrument of data collection 3.2.1. We did an interview to each of the two students, in which we asked them a number of 12 questions (see chart 1)

Chart 1:

Whenever a student makes an oral mistake, should the teacher correct it at once or at the end of the activity? A mistake should be corrected by the teacher, by the student or by someone else? Is the method applied for the teacher appropriated for correcting learners errors? Are there specific circumstances in which teachers should correct the student? Should the teacher tolerate the errors? (When, why) How should the teacher correct a reading aloud mistake? Which are the correct strategies to avoid embarrass or frustrate process when they make mistakes? Should the teacher correct each students error immediately or provide feedback face to face at the end of the class? Between global and local errors, which are the most common? Which of these two types of error is more important? Why? In some cases, should the teacher correct at once or let the students realize about their own mistakes? What can the teacher do for students to learn from corrected mistakes?

These questions are addressed with the purpose of finding out what are students opinions about types of mistakes and types of corrections. With these questions we also want to get information about frequency of correction, consequences of correction, strategies to avoid frustration, among others.

3.2.2. This interview was developed with two research students in charge of this work and two interviewed students. This interview took place in the Universidad Del Atlntico on Tuesday November 19th, 2013 and had a duration of 25 and 30 minutes about.

3.3 - Instrument of data analysis

3.3.1. First of all, we asked to the interviewed students 12 questions. Second, We collected the written information from students opinions and then, we compared each question with its respective answers. After doing this, we proceeded to write down our analysis.

3.3.2. After checking the information obtained, we discussed about how to proceed with the collected data. Then, we decided to compare the answers with its respective question and to give an explanation and the results of those interviews.

4 - Results

On the basis of an analysis of the collected data, here we could present the results of our study. At first, we would like you to observe the interviews, and then we will show you the analysis of the answers.
1. Whenever a student makes an oral mistake, should the teacher correct it at once or at the end of the activity? Interviewed #1 I think that the teacher should correct an oral mistake at the end of the activity. The students sometimes make mistakes but those errors dont affect their idea or their message when they are speaking. At the end the teacher can correct those errors and gives the explanation of that as well as possible. Interviewed #2 I think that the teacher should correct mistakes at the end of the class or at the end of students speech because for me it is the appropriate moment where students can receive the teachers advice, otherwise if the teacher interrupts the student he/she can lose the concentration and forget what he/she thought to say. 2. A mistake should be corrected by the teacher, by the student or by someone else? Interviewed #1

I think the teacher is the main person to do that. But it is also true that he could use other ways to correct mistakes by using for example self-correction or peercorrection. Those activities help students to create a positive class atmosphere as students realize you are not the only source of error correction and they can learn a lot from one another. Interviewed #2 I think that mistakes should be corrected by a prepared person in a specific field of learning. In some cases, we can find situations when learners role the teachers place and correct their partners errors. In other way, nothing restricts the importance of students assistance into the process of learning of other learners.

3. Is the method commonly applied for the teacher appropriated for correcting learners errors? Interviewed #1 It depends on when or how the teacher uses the method to correct one error because if this method is not clear or it is not appropriate, the students could feel bad. Remember that being corrected constantly can be really demotivating for the students. Interviewed #2 Sometimes, it is good but it would be better if the teacher applies different types of correction, not only one but several. 4. Are there specific circumstances in which teachers should correct the student? Interviewed #1 Of course, at the moment where his students make mistakes and those errors dont allow a good comprehension of the message. Interviewed #2 Yes, there are some cases when the mistake that student made was grave as a negative transfer of the mother language toward the second language (English) the teacher says immediately that this word doesnt exist. 5. Should the teacher tolerate the errors? (When, why) Interviewed #1

Yes, but in some occasions the teacher should correct mistakes because they can affect the communication and for obvious reasons the audience could not understand the message. Interviewed #2 Taking account that tolerate errors can be defined in other words such as to treat with indulgence, liberality, forbearance or to permit; in some cases, it could be say that it is necessary to tolerate errors to maintain an artificial web of creating knowledge. It is based on the requirement in the process of learning where the student need to be tolerated in order to avoid difficulties or inhibited situations. 6. How should the teacher correct a reading aloud mistake? Interviewed #1 There are many ways to do that. In this situation the teacher could use the best way to correct students mistakes and if it is possible he could explain why. Interviewed #2 I think that teacher needs to correct some of these mistakes at the end of the students reading.

7. Which are the correct strategies to avoid the embarrassment or frustration process when they make mistakes? Interviewed #1 For the students its good to feel that there is a good environment in the classroom because in that way, the students can participate more. In the same way in what the teacher give them the opportunity to use the new language, the errors can arise. Its very important that the teacher doesnt correct every minimal mistake, just errors that impede the intelligibility of a message. These should receive top priority for correction. Interviewed #2 I think that the teacher is the person who has the option to allow frustration in the student or not, because the way how he/she correct students' mistakes will be fundamental in the attitude that student takes. It means that the teacher needs to be very polite and very professional at the moment of correcting students' mistakes.

8. Should the teacher correct each students error immediately or provide feedback face to face at the end of the class? Interviewed #1 Both are possible, but the teacher is who can choose which of them he can use at the moment those errors are made. When the errors are so big the teacher should give students feedback to clarify those errors and he must ensure that the explanation was clear and concise manner. Interviewed # To correct immediately in those certain elemental errors such as basic grammar mistakes, poor pronunciation or simple words or lack of confidence that could be corrected by motivation given by mediators. The others, I mean, errors of coherence or lack of presenting ideas need to be corrected face to face at the end.

9. Between global and local errors, which are the most common? Interviewed #1 It depends on the activity that students do in that moment but I think the most common errors are Local. Interviewed #2 The most common errors that we could see are local errors.

10. Which of these two types of error is more important? Why? Interviewed #1 Global errors are the most important because they avoid the intelligibility of a message. Interviewed #2 The most important are Global errors because they make an activity or sentence unclear and incomprehensible.

11. In some cases, should the teacher correct at once or let the students realize about their own mistakes? Interviewed #1

Both are possible. Sometimes, the teacher let the students realize about their own errors and also helps them to correct those errors. In some occasions the students learn more when they are who correct their own errors. Interviewed #2 According to theories of providing feedback, I could say that there are some situations where the problem-solving of students involve realizing some mistakes. Nevertheless, mediators can to provide a helpful guidance into certain aspects or errors. 12. What can the teacher do for students to learn from corrected mistakes? Interviewed #1 The teacher should repeat the correction each time that the student makes an error until the student could correct himself. Interviewed #2 Basically, teacher must to provide feedback, however it needs to be clear, provided with tools of looking for information and strategies to keep in mind the corrections. In this way, the learner has facilities to process new information and use in real life and future situations.

After the analysis of the answers collected from each student, we present the conclusions we found: They consider that mistakes should be corrected at the end of the activities or once the student's speech is concluded because if the teacher interrupt the student to correct him, it could affect the fluency and ideas as well. Another aspect we found according to the answers is that the mistakes can be corrected by the teacher, by the classmates and even by the student that made the mistake. The methods used by the teacher to correct mistakes are in general words ok, but students say that the teacher should use different methods. moreover, students propose that the teacher should not correct minimal mistakes, they agree that the

mistakes that should be corrected are those that affect the idea of the phrase or when a student use a word that does not exist or is not right. They also say that when its time to correct, the teacher should do this in a polite way and even face to face to avoid inhibition. They also argued that the kind of mistake (global or local) depends on the activity they do, but the most commonly mistakes are global. They recommend that the teacher should give a feedback about the mistakes made in the class and say why it (what the student said) was a considered as one to learn from them.

5- References

Allwright, Dick and Bailey, Kathleen M. 1999. Focus on the Language Classroom. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Gower, R., Phillips, D. and Walters, S. 1995. Teaching Practice Handbook. New York: Macmillan Heinemann English Language Teaching, Oxford.

Harmer, Jeremy. 1998. how to teach English. Addison Wesley Longman Limited.