Fixing Common Mistakes

Common mistakes among language learners are numerous. (As are linguistic mistakes among native speakers, for that matter!) For example, I’m finding that subject-verb agreement is one mistake all my students make, regardless of their level.  What kinds of exercises can be helpful to these students? The goal, I believe, is to heighten their awareness of the grammar in question and help them monitor their own speech. They will learn to correct themselves, and then ideally the need to correct will become less frequent.

  • Exercise 1 – Self and peer editing.

In addition to helping students correct their language on the spot, I like to note mistakes and keep a collection of them. When enough have accumulated to form a 5-10 minute written exercise, I present it in a lesson as a review. I also add some new sentences with the same kinds of mistakes. For a private student, the exercise is a collection of his or her past mistakes. For a class, it is a collection of past mistakes made by various students within their group.


  • Exercise 2 – Editing articles.

It’s also possible to use a passage from an authentic source. Select a passage of an appropriate length. Type it out on a word processor, deliberately changing the text to contain the common mistake you want the students to fix. Try to insert the same kind of mistake a number of times. Have them edit the articles first individually. Then have them compare their work with a partner. Finally, correct the exercise as a class.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Luis says:

    I was afraid to write a comment in your blog (my English is not very good). But I needed to say:

    Thank you for your blog. I am learning and enjoyning at the same time !.

    1. englishwithjennifer says:

      To be able to enjoy the process of learning is a wonderful thing. 🙂 Thank you for posting your comment.

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