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Making mistakes

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by minka1, Feb 24, 2016.

  1. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    "Making mistakes in language learning is not only necessary, it is a good sign. If you are not making mistakes you are not trying hard enough to use the language." - Steve Kaufmann
    Do you foster an atmosphere in your classroom whereby mistakes are encouraged?
    maa09 and BrightonEarly like this.
  2. Vladimir

    Vladimir Senior commenter

    I don't make mistakes.
  3. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    Least of all the mistake of being humble.
    maa09 likes this.
  4. Jeremyinspain

    Jeremyinspain Occasional commenter

    My mantra (I teach seven year-old Spaniards in (immersion) English): You come to school to make mistakes (and to learn from them). If you're not making mistakes, then the work's too easy.
    I'm learning Spanish while I'm here, and apply the same to myself, The children love to give me a mark out of ten if I have to speak to a Spanish teacher or a parent in Spanish.
    minka1 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  5. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    There are very few subjects where the potential to get things wrong almost constantly is the default position but MFL is one of them. You ask a question in Maths or Physics it will be mostly a one word answer and easy to gloss over. You answer a question in a foreign language you could pick the wrong words, in the wrong order with terrible pronunciation and it can seem you know nothing. To keep on going, knowing if you keep on trying it will get better is the main challenge in learning a new language.To know that to make mistakes is perfectly normal is invaluable for the learner especially so for the beginner.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  6. veverett

    veverett Occasional commenter

    Yes, of course. But it's not an easy thing to put in place just because we all agree that it's great to look at mistakes as an opportunity. Pupils can be very anti having attention drawn to their work especially to their mistakes. You have to really work at it, and keep working at it.
    minka1 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  7. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    But if they are afraid to make mistakes you get a class that only answers the easiest questions or even worse is largely silent with the teacher doing most of the talking. In MFL especially in the early stages you have to learn to leave your ego at the door. And it's not as if you have to hammer down on every mistake and humiliate the student in front of the class. Corrections can be deferred to a more suitable time or subtly corrected with no loss of face by student. Perhaps teachers need to get away from the idea that mistakes not corrrected immediately will become ingrained. Some times you have to trust that the student will GET IT eventually.
  8. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

  9. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    It's about creating the right atmosphere in any classroom where students are not proccupied / worried about making mistakes and rather perceive getting some things wrong it as an opportunity to learn, improve and do better next time.Too many students are egocentric -they see making an error as reflecting on them as individuals and not on the task. Too much kudos also in my opinion on being labelled bright, talented, gifted - there are other 'soft skills ' to commend which are essential to sustainability in an academic environment and in the world of work
    minka1 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  10. Vladimir

    Vladimir Senior commenter

    "Modesty would be dishonesty." - Orac
  11. Vladimir

    Vladimir Senior commenter

    Is it? Is that the main challenge? Oh, right.
  12. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    Got any constructive ideas Vladimir or are you just sniping as per usual.
  13. Kamit

    Kamit New commenter

    It depends what the ultimate aim is.

    I was taught French very formally, concentrating on correct grammar at all times.

    My Spanish teacher said we'd never have to write a letter in Spanish but that we should be able to make ourselves understood.

    I got an A for French and a B for Spanish. So am I better at French?

    20+ years on I can still make myself understood in Spanish . The 4 years immersed in a vocabulary rich lessons where everyone was forced to contribute and we were never corrected only asked to try again made me confident. My French is nowhere near as good as we spent far too long doing things like reading Albert Camus books, and looking up the correct tense in grammar books rather than talking out loud in the language.
    Lara mfl 05 and Kartoshka like this.
  14. Vladimir

    Vladimir Senior commenter

    Does it have to be an 'either-or', or can I have both? :cool:
  15. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

    Surprise me.
    JL48 likes this.
  16. minka1

    minka1 Occasional commenter

  17. Vladimir

    Vladimir Senior commenter

    I know Gianfranco's blog and have a great deal of respect for his ideas and he always writes an informative and interesting blog post. On this occasion, with regard to making misteaks however, I have to disagree with him. I believe every misteak needs correcting, right from the beginning, however small. Bad habits spread like an infection.

  18. BrightonEarly

    BrightonEarly Occasional commenter

    I often say to my classes that I'm waiting for someone to make the one mistake that is the main point of my lesson. I reward pupils who either make the mistake or can see the mistake that would be made by 'younger or less experienced learners'. I might also set up a trap for pupils and hope they fall for it, so that we can discuss mistakes commonly made by language learners. In a recent lesson, we were using the verb 'faire' and I followed this up with a Translation Trap activity. Pupils were invited to translate 'I do like cheese' into French. We then had a great discussion about how examiners design exam papers with traps to catch out language learners who have not been trained to think about their work. This kind of discussion encourages pupils to see the value of making mistakes and of learning from them. This is a much more memorable way to cover traps in language learning than the study of past papers in the final year(s) of the build up to exams.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  19. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Unfortunately that runs counter to the current marking regime in all subjects whereby only selected errors are highlighted when marking.
    Don't you realise that too many red pen markings destroy confidence? Far better, surely, to let the pupils think that the rest of their work is perfect, when it isn't. It gives them the ammuniion to contradict other (supply) teachers when the errors are pointed out. "No, you're wrong. Our proper teacher hasn't marked it as wrong, so it must be right!"

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