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Effective teacher’s checklist, or the art of error correction

What’s a typical adult student’s story I have encountered in my career?

„I’ve learned English my whole life and I still have problems.”

„I was explained Present Perfect around 150 times, and I still don’t get it/don’t use it.”

„I tried different approaches to learning English, but none of them really worked.”

„I’m stuck on B1,” aka FOREVER-B1

One of the things that made our early students appreciate us more than any other course they have attended was that we were able to solve all these problems. After some months their feedback was often starting with „Finally, …” or „Never before have I had such a course”.

Did we do this through psychological tricks, extremely sophisticated motivation techniques, and neuroscience?

Not really.

We did it through the right organization of the course.

That’s why today I wanted to share a checklist of what has proved ultra effective in 90% of our students, and which sits well with the whole Talking Heads teaching framework.

Here’s the effective teacher’s checklist:

  1. ☑️ I write down at least 5-10 examples of error correction in each class.
  2. ☑️ I also correct my student on the spot. If a correction involves introducing new lexical structures, we put them down in Vocabulary.
  3. ☑️ I surf the wave of error correction to explain more complex grammar to the student if needed.
  4. ☑️ At the end of the class, I revisit the error correction together with the student and make sure they know or have the resources to correct each sentence. I do it by speaking, they do not write down the answers until later.
  5. ☑️ At the beginning of each class, we check the homework together and review the corrections once again.
  6. ☑️ I provide warm-up speaking which uses the target structures that student found problematic previously. The student is not peeking into the ready answers when involved in the warm-up.
  7. ☑️ If I notice writing down answers doesn’t influence student’s speaking, I begin working with audio records. I have considered using the mix of the two as well.
  8. ☑️ I persistently keep going back to the problematic structures in the subsequent classes, asking questions that elicit them, until they become natural for the student.
  9. ☑️ I challenge the student during the quarterly test with a selection of