The Treatment of Error in Oral Work


  • John F. Fanselow

    1. (Ph. D., Teachers College, Columbia University) is Associate Professor of Language and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, N. Y.
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ABSTRACT Frequently, discussions about language teaching include the questions: Which types of errors should be treated and which ignored? How should errors be treated? To see the extent to which the behaviors of teachers could help answer these questions, eleven teachers were videotaped teaching the same lesson to their classes. Transcripts were made, containing both verbal and nonverbal behaviors. The analysis of the tapes showed that both the types of errors treated and the treatments used were quite similar. The teachers seemed less concerned with errors of grammar than with incorrect meaning. Giving the right answer was the most popular treatment. The similarity of behavior among the teachers did not provide as much insight into the treatment of errors as was hoped for. The process of analysis did lead to a number of ideas about possible alternative treatments. The treatments suggested are based on the importance in learning of contrasts, redundancy, explicit feedback, and the difference between long- and short-term memory.