There are many ways to give feedback on your learnersí written work. The most important guideline, however, is to consider just how much to correct. Low-level learners may become demoralized by over-correction. Using a red pen to excessively mark up a paper that the learner has struggled to produce, or dissecting an expressive and heartfelt creative piece of work error for error, may discourage the learner from further attempts at writing.

Errors can be addressed in many ways. In class, point out errors on a one-to-one basis. Aim for self-correction, but provide the answers if the learner does not know. This will require the teacher to monitor during the writing process.

The teacher can also collect papers and correct them outside of class, giving back the next day. One good idea here is not to correct the errors for them, but highlight problem areas, and then allow time in class for self-correction and redrafting. Think about making error correction into a game. Collect interesting errors from different papers and type them out (donít identify the learner). Have all learners work together to figure out the problem, then have selected learnerís come up and write them on the board.

Editing symbols are a useful way to highlight the errors and prompt self-correction by students. Some examples of symbols that could be used are:

S/V= use to highlight subject-verb agreement problems

WC = use to indicate a word choice problem

S/P = use to highlight singular/ plural problems

^ = use to indicate that there is a missing word

VT= use to highlight a verb tense problem

/ = use to indicate that a word is unnecessary

WO = use to indicate a word order problem

C = use to show that there is a problem with capitalization

It is important that students understand that writing is a process. The initial piece is important, but the drafting process and the final piece are even more important. It is through the editing process that students become aware of their problem areas with production, and can start to work on them.

Most importantly, it is not a good idea to have your learners read their written work aloud unless you have looked it over with them and they have had a chance to correct their errors. Having students read aloud an error-filled and uncorrected text only reinforces the error.

It is also not a good idea to ask learners to read their personal stories aloud, as they tend to express things more personal with this skill. Use good judgment. Having them read such a work out loud would be embarrassing for them, especially when they thought they were writing for your eyes only.

Should you let peers correct peers? Comparing controlled writing tasks where the learners have written similar papers and a particular language focus would make this a good idea, but avoid having learners correct each otherís spoken errors.