Error correction …. or not?

Animal trainers know that it is easier to teach a horse or dog what you want it to do, than to teach it not to do something. “No” is an abstract notion. In the same way, it is much easier to teach students what is right than it is to teach them not to do what is wrong. This is what Comprehensible Input is all about. When we give our students engaging language to understand and enjoy, their eventual production will be fluent and free of errors. When we try to correct their first, hesitant efforts, all we are doing is pointing out to their brains output that we don’t want them to produce. Their flawed output becomes input, very low quality, flawed input, often underlined in red, but it is still comprehensible (they know what they wanted to say) input. Our misguided efforts often result in the acquisition of the very errors we are trying to eliminate. Have you ever wondered why your students keep repeating the same mistakes over and over? The same mistakes (underlined in red) that you have been constantly pointing out to them and drawing their attention to? Did I hear anyone say fossilized errors?

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