The subject came up in the last workshop I attended and I thought I should look into the matter more carefully... Wouldn't like to make any mistakes now??
Well, it seems that there is a variety of "mistakes" when learning a language...
Here's what I found out:
1. Slip: an accidental and trivial mistake in speaking
2. Error: a systematic deviation made by learners who have not yer mastered the rules of the target language.
3. Mistake: if one says something incorect and then corrects himself, that's a mistake, not an error.
4. Blunder: a mistake made through stupidity, ignorance or carelessness
5. Fault: a mistake made on the basis of bad judgement or ignorance or inattention.
According to Norman (1986): "The division occurs at the level of intention: A Person establishes an intention to act. If the intention is not appropriate, this is a mistake. If the action is not what was intented this is a slip."
Mistakes, errors and slips are something we cannot avoid when learning a language.
- they show a student's progress to the teacher
- they show how a language is acquired, that strategies a learner uses to the researcher
- the learner can learn from these mistakes
According to Carroll (1955): "When a learner has made an error, the most efficient way to teach him the correct form is not by simply giving it to him, but by letting him discover it and test different hypotheses"
There are many different ways you can correct the mistakes without actually giving the answer.
On written texts for example, you can just underline the mistake and write what kind of mistake it is (i.g, grammar, structure, vocabulary) and let the student correct his mistakes as homework.
When it comes to speaking, it gets more difficult... Personally I do not correct everything that comes to my attention. I try to help the student especially with mime and gestures, but in my opinion it is more important to learn how to communicate first and deal with the mistakes at a later stage...
How about you? How do you deal with mistakes?