Is it wrong to correct people

To correct or not to correct?

Should you correct verbal utterances immediately? There is actually no clear answer to that. Some teachers place great value on verbal expressions that are as correct as possible from the start, while others do not want to spoil the joy of speaking for their course participants and largely forego corrections. Both positions have their place. Ultimately, the individual needs of the learner also decide here.

"Please correct me immediately if I say something wrong." Most teachers know this wish. It is mostly ambitious participants who express themselves in this way. However, it is not that easy to comply with this request. Strictly speaking, numerous mistakes still happen at higher language levels, and if you wanted to correct them all immediately, you would have to interrupt the learner relatively often.

Sometimes better: let it talk

This is quite frustrating even for very confident people. Worse still: The flow of thoughts that runs in the speaker's head and ensures that he can produce sentence after sentence is constantly interrupted. The speaker repeatedly loses the thread and fluent speech becomes impossible. It is therefore better to only correct mistakes in long speech acts that really impair understanding. For example, by asking brief questions.
In the case of shorter speech acts, it is possible to correct at the end. A subtle possibility is to repeat what has been said again, for example according to the scheme: "So you are of the opinion that ..."

To forego corrections altogether is not a solution in the long run. Because then so-called fossilizations often occur. Once learned incorrectly, it is repeated over and over again and is thus memorized. Relearning is becoming more and more difficult. This phenomenon can often be observed in people who have learned a language independently without a language course and have never or hardly been corrected by their environment.

There are, however, situations in which it is better if the instructor does not make corrections for the time being. For example, with insecure, reluctant course participants who rarely speak up. The focus here is really on the fact that the learners dare to speak at all - and that they are not immediately demotivated by corrections.


Written correction of errors
For further reading on the subject, read the article "Effectiveness of written error correction" by Marion Grein.

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