Sunday, December 11, 2011

Practical Strategies to Overcome Fossilization

Practical Strategies to Overcome Fossilization

There is no real rule determining when certain users may begin to fossilize. It varies widely by the individual and by the environment in which the language is learned. Fossilization often means that certain aspects of the language were learned incompletely or incorrectly, such as grammatical features like conjugating verbs in the wrong fashion or using the wrong vocabulary, in such a manner that they cannot be unlearned and replaced with correct usage. Fossilization may also consist of a sort of subconscious clinging to aspects of the learner's mother tongue, for instance, with syntax and phonology.
What are fossilized errors?

•    A mistake that students know is wrong but keep making.
•    An error from force of habit which students no longer know they are making.
•    Something that students learnt wrong and now need to change.
•    An error that students can correct when focused but still make on their own.
•    A mistake that recurs despite constant correction.
•    An error based in L1 interference that is made by many speakers.
•    Mistakes that teachers may not “hear” after a number of years teaching in a particular      context (and therefore do not correct).
•    A mistake that has been repeated so that it sounds right to the learner.

We tried to come up with ideas about why errors become fossilized. 

What actually causes fossilization?

•    Fossilization is due to L1 interference and is a natural feature of interlanguage      development.
•    Lack of correction.
•    The connection between interlanguage and errors.
•    Method of instruction.
•    Errors that come from previous stages of learning (especially with older students).
•    Linear modes of instruction increase the chance of fossilization.
•    When students realize they can make a mistake and be understood, it can become      fossilized.
•    Lack of learner autonomy – reliance on correction by teacher.

Practical Ideas to Overcome Fossilization

•    Recording students – you could play the recording, ask for general impression, give them   the typescript, have them correct their own or peer’s errors.
•    Have students self correct and peer correct, which is more effective than teacher      correction.
•    Playing games with individual mistakes or common errors.
•    Focus on one error at a time, stopping students and having them correct it before moving   on.
•    Give students a funny look when they make a fossilized error – they will realize something is wrong and correct them (not to be tried with new or very shy students!)
•    Discover and clarify why and how errors occur.
•    Personalized “fossil” diaries where students record their particular errors.
•    Focus on fossilized errors at the end of an activity.
•    Keep a “fossil” dictionary.
•    Dictations using common errors.
•    Write answers/problems on the board to discuss as a class.
•    Error diaries – students observe themselves out of class and report back on their usage.
•    Have a wiki – each student has their own page for errors.
•    Don’t correct individual students on the spot, but save errors for class correction at the      end.
•    Students must be invested in correcting the error.
•    Motivate students to experiment with language.
•    Ask some students to be monitors and write down what they hear during speaking      activities.
•    Recording students can make students more careful – karaoke effect.
•    Explain the consequences of mistakes, especially embarrassing ones.
•    Students as teachers – note down errors for constructive feedback in groups.
•    Have students mimic different accents (this cuts down on inhibitions that cause mistakes).
•    Mixing correct and incorrect sentences on the board and asking students to spot those      with errors.

No comments:

Post a Comment