Many students are concerned about using English accurately. What is the best way to speak correctly and to stop making mistakes? The first thing we have to bear in mind about errors is that they are a necessary part of learning. If you already knew how to write and speak perfect English there would be no need for you to attend class. People who have never made mistakes are people who have never tried. So, we have to see errors themselves and error correction as a very positive and necessary part of learning.
What kind of error is it?Before deciding which is the best strategy to eliminate errors, it's important to determine what kind of error you are making.
Learning the RuleAre you making a mistake because you don't know how to say it correctly? Is it because you simply don't know the rule yet? The solution here is reasonably simple: You need to familiarise yourself with the rule and practise it plenty! Exercises, study and games can help! Nothing to beat a little old fashioned homework! You'll find your grammar will improve if you do this. And it won't if you don't.
Time to Assimilate the RuleAre you making a mistake because although you know the rule, you haven't managed to use it quite right yet? This means you need to give yourself more practise and more time. You've already done the exercises but you are still having difficulty. In this situation plenty of reading can help as it will give you many, many examples of the correct rule and help you to assimilate good grammar. This process is partly unconscious. The more you read, the more you will find your precision increasing.
Fossilized ErrorsFinally, do you use a particular structure incorrectly, although you know the rule very well and have practised it a million times? This often happens to high level learners and with the most basic of grammar rules, for example, forgetting the 's' on third person singular verbs in the Simple Present tense.
There is a special name for these kinds of errors: fossilized errors.
As a general rule, there's a very big difference between doing exercises very well and using English accurately. It's something like the difference between doing twenty press-ups and playing a good game of football. If you know the rule does it help to be told it again or to study it again? The answer here is that it can occasionally help but it often doesn't. Writing and rewriting help improve all types errors as you specifically target accuracy in the correction and in the second draft of a composition. As writing and speaking are productive skills, practising one can help the other.
Clear Targets Effective StrategiesIf you have fossilized errors when you speak your target is not so much to learn the rule as it is to raise your awareness of your use, to listen to yourself and to filter your errors, ideally before or at least just after you use them. In terms of speaking, this means listening to yourself: recording yourself in free speech. It's a powerful if difficult strategy which many students dislike intensely. And in terms of writing it may mean writing several drafts of the same essay. Learners often wish for a kind of grammar fairy (a native speaker) who could correct their every error as they speak and that would help them, to learn to correct them and not to make mistakes anymore. The truth is you have to become your own grammar fairy.
For many years only the grammar of language was taught and many people finished their education without being able to actually speak or understand the language they had'learnt', although they were quite expert in grammar. These days methods have changed for the better, and there is far emphasis on understanding and speaking. This doesn't mean that we can totally forget about precision work. These days, unless you are a student who is taking a very high level exam, you can do well to remember a little grammar goes a very long way. Futures will help us talk about our plans, pasts will help us talk about our experiences... Some students decide they only want to learn to speak and that they don't need to learn grammar. And they might be right if they go and live in the country where the language is spoken. The rest of us , without so much time or money need fast effective tools to help us improve our accuracy. And we have them: grammar exercises. Nothing new under the sun. Other students go to the other extreme, and are so perfectionist with themselves that they are in a constant state of frustration and negativity: they can not abide making errors and they paralyze their own progress with an obsession with grammar. These students need to be selective in their strategies, constant self- monitoring will ultimately hinder fluency. So, in certain exceptional cases, a glass of wine or a cup of cocoa might be the best medicine.
A World of Resources
The good news is you can do a lot of work by yourself with grammar, a good self study grammar reference and exercise book appropriate to level (with answers) is a must for any serious student. A book without answers is useless. Online you will find a whole universe of games and exercises. You can work on your own or you can work with another classmate. Some students find it very motivating to meet up regularly with a study partner. You motivate and support each other, help each other, make suggestions ect. If you think that would help you, why not go about trying that? You can also consult the best links section of the webpage for some good grammar websites. Your tutor will give you frequent recommendations in this respect both in class and via mail.our course guide and course reports will contain recommendations based on course work.