Teaching Pronunciation (19)
Paulston and Bruder (1976) suggest the following: Correct errors immediately at single word drilling phase. Correct the mistakes by modeling and by asking your students to imitate your pronunciation. In conversational exchanges, correct errors only on particular teaching points. Correct those items which interfere with comprehensibility, and overlook other mistakes. Judge content and form separately. Correct carefully without reducing motivation and self-image of the adult learners.
Doff (1988) identifies three approaches to error correction practiced by teachers.
1. “I never let my students make mistakes. If they say anything wrong, I stop them and make them say it correctly. I don’t want them to learn bad English from each other.” This approach focuses more on errors of students than on what they do correctly. This approach hampers developing fluency in English, for committing mistakes is an integral part of any learning activity. Currently it is agreed that the errors committed by the students should be considered as an indication of what we still need to teach.
2. “I correct students sometimes, but not all the time. If we’re practicing one particular language point, then I insist that they say it correctly. But if we’re doing a freer activity then I try not to correct too much. If I do correct, I try to do it in an encouraging way.”
3. “I try to correct errors as little as possible. I want my students to express themselves in English without worrying too much about making mistakes. Sometimes I notice points that everyone gets wrong, and deal with them later – but I never interrupt students to correct them.”
Presently, “most teachers would agree . . . that we need to correct some errors, to help students learn the correct forms of the language . . . But this does not mean that we have to correct students all the time – if we do, it might make them unwilling or unable to say anything at all” (Doff 1988:188).
Remember that our ultimate goal in pronunciation and speaking practice is developing fluency with comprehensibility.