How can I not knock an A1/A2 level student’s confidence by correcting their mistakes?

Error correction and appraisal – finding the balance

Diary submitted by Chloe L., Valencia

How can I not knock an A1/A2 level student’s confidence by correcting their mistakes?

Finding a balance between error correction and appraisal is key when you are an EFL teacher. Giving appraisal can be very beneficial to the students as it can encourage them to do even better and furthermore it can boost their confidence, in some situations this can lead them to try new vocabulary or using a different verb tense. However, like everything in life, you need to make mistakes in order to improve and learning from your mistakes is also important when learning a new language.

Error correction is vital when A1/A2 level students are speaking as if you, as a teacher, do not correct them they may continue to use the same errors as they do to realise that it is incorrect. Depending on the student you have, some can be quite shy in general and therefore they often apologise when they make a mistake. I always try and make them not feel apologetic as making mistakes are a fundamental part of learning the language. In the long run making mistakes can be very beneficial for them. Especially when it comes to grammar exercises for example as often they are bound to make mistakes but in these exercises students really understand the contexts in which they ought to use this specific verb tense/ grammar in general.

I have been reading up a lot on how important praising students is, I found this study that was conducted in America. This study does not apply directly to the system we teach as it is 1to1, and in this study they were observing pupils from state schools in the US and each class had between 16 to 25 students, they were not only observing public appraisal (loud) but also private appraisal (quiet). Nonetheless, the results states that “They found that praise had a dramatic beneficial effect on pupils’ behaviour, and it didn’t matter whether the praise was private or public.” Due to the fact that our classes are taught 1to1 I believe that this study could be somewhat applied, as it is similar to using private appraisal.

Furthermore, there have been numerous studies on the benefits of praising students and “studies show that praise can encourage students in many positive ways—like helping them pay more attention to detail and giving them more incentive to try harder.”[2]

To conclude, it is evident that praising a student can give them more confidence and therefore improve further in the future.


  • [1] pupils benefit from praise, but should teachers give it to them publicly or privately? https://digest.bps.org.uk/2014/09/15/pupils-benefit-from-praise-but-should-teachers-give-it-to-them-publicly-or-privately/
  • [2] Benefits of praising your students https://www.imaginelearning.com/blog/2011/11/it-pays-to-praise-the-benefits-of-classroom-compliments

How can I not knock an A1/A2 level student’s confidence by correcting their mistakes?

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