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Articles and Comment

Webinar summary | Giving Feedback on Learner´s Oral Errors and Mistakes


October 2023 | Article and Comments | Assessment | Discussion | EALTHY Blog | Teaching | Webinar summary | Webinars 2023

The webinar began by describing the difference between an error and a mistake. It then explained the evidence-based approach to giving feedback on learner´s oral output, and finally provided suggestions for principled correction strategies.


Neil Harris is a lecturer and teacher trainer in Centre English Language Training (CELT) in Cardiff, UK. He gave a fascinating talk on evidence-based principled corrections of spoken Medical English. In particular, he shared his knowledge and experience covering the following topics:

  • Definition of the difference between errors and mistakes demonstrated on the examples of two students´ oral output who are at different proficiency level (A1, C1): Causes of making errors and mistakes;
  • Categorising and responding to error: Error types;
  • Principled correction strategies for speaking: When to correct accuracy and when to correct fluency.

His talk was not only very informative, but also very interactive and thought provoking. The attendees were asked to take part in several quizzes followed by Neil´s comments, for example:

  • General thoughts and true/false assumptions on dealing with errors & mistakes;
  • Defining the causes of errors by matching terms and definitions;
  • Categorising error by choosing “one odd out”;
  • Answering the question: When it is a right time for correcting accuracy and fluency;
  • Oral correct key: Correction types – what the teachers say.

He explained the lesson frameworks and routines: “PPP” model (Presentation – Practice – Production) and “TTT” model (Test – Teach – Test) and provided suggestions for principled feedback. The key concepts in error correction that he presented included answering the questions of when and how to correct accuracy and fluency; decision making on who should do it (a teacher or a learner); and defining whether it is a new or repeated mistake.

Neil also described the form and meaning of focused oral output, provided a short list of Dos and Don´ts, suggested strategies for giving feedback to support the learner (giving implicit and explicit feedback; providing input and output), and referred to the OET spoken correction criteria.

Watch the webinar to find out more about the error/mistake correction-related myths and the tips on strategies you can use in your classroom: Direct correction, Recast / stressed recast, Questioning, Echoing, Non-verbal feedback, Clarification request, Metalinguistic feedback, Eliciting.