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Error Correction - How to Learn

bullet Improving your wording and your use of connectors - an example worddoc (1 page) (Upper Intermediate, Advanced)

Comments on Mistakes by Y5's (2007-08) at Exam Practice Writing Test
bullet Comments on the Spring Writing Test Practice in Y5 worddoc (3 pages) - can't find the doc!!!
bullet More notes for 2007-08 Y5's: Ideas to review some grammar points & pay attention to certain other tasks worddoc (1 page) - can't find the doc!!!
bullet Infinitives, gerunds, participles - go to YT's notes at Functional Grammar
bullet Y5's List of Common Mistakes (2006-07)
bullet Y3's List of Common Mistakes (2006, example) worddoc (1 page)

As an independent student, it is really important that you learn to monitor your learning. To do so, you could have your own List of Mistakes, or even a List of Errors and Mistakes. This will help you in several ways: you will be aware of your "weak points", you will notice your progress when you look at mistakes which you have stopped making, and you can use its information to check mentally if what you are saying or writing is correct -- actually, you should use it to check your compositions before handing them in.

What is a mistake and what is an error?
A mistake is a slip, an oops!!! (a "silly mistake"), something you could actually express correctly if you paid attention to your production. An error is something that needs an explanation or being looked up somewhere. Example: You know modals are followed by the bare infinitive but you forget this. You say: I must to go now!
instead of the correct sentence: I must go now! (must = not strong obligation -- that'd be "have to"; 'strong' is 'external' -- but MORAL obligation). The same example could be used to illustrate an error. The difference would be in that you DIDN'T KNOW that modals are followed by the bare infinitive.

Why do you keep forgetting?
Are you stupid? No, you aren't. You forget because the number of times you've said it wrong is amazingly huge! and you haven't paid attention (listened to) its correct production. In other words, you haven't heard that use enough times, AND you haven't automatized the use of that modal. You don't listen to yourself and you don't listen to English enough.

What can you do?
Repeat the checked sentences several times every now and then, till you automatize their production, and record it in your List of Mistakes, so that you are aware of it! Use your List of Mistakes to check your writing activities. One more thing -- while you repeat, try to be aware of the grammar issues.

As you can see, if you have these mistakes/errors, especially if they have stagnated, you CAN do something about it without depending on your teacher's feedback all the time!

Down to Work
Do these proofreading exercises to practice spotting the mistake!
In our Forums we can talk about it, and suggest ideas to overcome the problem. Like this one: repeat aloud twenty times the sentence you usually say wrong but SAYING IT RIGHT! Repeat it aloud for some time till you automatize its production. Always IMAGINE the situation where you say it. And if you can, think about grammar -- notice how it is applied!

Below you'll find different lists on mistakes/errors I've found while correcting work by students. Send in your own, so we can expand these notes!

Common Errors in English Usage external link by Paul Brians