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A Strategic Approach to Correcting Pronunciation Errors

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by Yusuf Ozturk | 01 Oct 2021
Resource Description: Oral corrective feedback on L2 pronunciation requires teachers to act strategically so that they don't discourage learners, and contribute to their language development.
Audience: Adult, Secondary, University
Audience Language Proficiency: Advanced, Beginner, Intermediate
Teaching Tip:

Making errors in second language use and receiving corrective feedback allows for hypothesis-testing in learners and eventually leads to language development. However, not all corrective feedback results in learner intake because, for some experts, teachers can’t correct student errors; what they do is provide feedback-- it is the students who correct their errors (i.e. self-repair). Nevertheless, research shows that providing corrective feedback is more effective than not providing it. 


Giving feedback to students is some kind of an art, but we teachers can make “informed” choices about how much and what type of feedback we give students. So, in the context of pronunciation feedback, rather than a mere recast without thinking of any variables, we can act strategically. In other words, we think about our response, and are intentional about it.


So, a correction is not just a correction, but a series of informed decisions made by the teacher. We need to stay focused, choose what to correct, decide how and when to correct, and be kind and empowering.


If we try to correct every mistake, use the same way to do this regardless of the mistake and context, and do it by interrupting meaningful communication, we may risk being far from empowering and discouraging our learners. We need to avoid overcorrection and interrupting the flow of speech, and make good use of syllable- or word-stress when it comes to correcting pronunciation errors to maximize the possibility of our learners’ noticing their errors.


Our students need to “notice” that they are corrected. Otherwise, the corrective feedback would not be of any use. In addition, the correction must be within their ability to understand (comprehensible input, i+1). So, how this process works can be represented as follows: Student notices + thinks + self-corrects = long-term memory.

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TESOL Interest Section: English as a Foreign Language