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Correcting Errors Inthe Communicative Class

Correcting Errors Inthe Communicative Class

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(Jurnal Ilmu Bahasa dan Sastra) Vol. 1/ No. 1/ Januari – Juni 2001
Correcting Errorsin the Communicative Speaking Class
Hairus Salikin 
Peranan pengoreksian dalam pengajaran Bahasa Inggris, terutama kelas ‘speaking’ menjadi perdebatan sejak lama, demikian juga cara pemberian umpan balik atau pengoreksian. Belum dapat diketahui dengan pasti metode yang efektif untuk pengoreksian kesalahan, sebab setiap pembelajar bahasa asing mempunyai kepekaan yang berbeda terhadap umpan balik yang diberikan.Namun demikian, masih dapat disajikan beberapa pandangan dan hasil penelitian para ahli di bidang linguistik yang dapat membantu para pengajar dalam memberikan umpan balik kepada pembelajar dalam kelas ‘speaking’. Tiga kategori cara pengoreksian yang dapat digunakan yaitu pengoreksian secara selektif, mengoreksi istilah yang propduktif, dan pengoreksian konstruktif.
Kata-kata kunci: 
speaking errors, signs of learning, types of errors, errors correction, classroom atmosphere.
The role of correction in foreign language (FL) teaching has been an issuefor quite some time and opinions vary as to whether correction is effective or not.That is why, it is necessary to know way of correcting errors. This project willdiscuss how to correct errors in the communicative speaking class. Although therehas been a small number of research conducted on the reaction of students to thecorrection of their errors (Chenoweth
et al 
, 1983), there is a great need to hearwhat the learners think of oral error correction. The teachers often correct thestudents without considering what the learners think of oral error correction.Jacobovits, as cited in Holey and Freday (1971), believes that students’ inability tospeak the foreign language may be due to their teachers’ unreasonable highdemands.The problems of how to handle errors have always perplexed foreignlanguage teachers, and this situation becomes even more perplexing with theadvent of Communicative Approach. Prior to this, during the Audiolingual, Structuraland Behaviorist period, classroom drills were designed so that students would dotheir pattern drills without making mistakes. However the Communicative Approachsends a different message to the teachers; ‘Get your students to communicate atall costs’ (Mendelson, 1990). This means that teachers should be tolerant to theirstudents errors. The central discussion of this paper is that how should teachershandle errors when they occur in speaking class. In the speaking class. teachers
Correcting Errors in the Communicative Speaking Class (Hairus Salikin)
are faced with the dilemma of how to correct errors without causing the studentsbecome hesitant or nervous about talking.
Problems in Defining Errors
Defining errors in FL teaching is not a simple matter because it is probablynot seen in the same way by different observers. Lennon (1991) points out that auniversal and applicable definition of FL cannot be formulated since it could bedefined according to situation, reference group, interlocutor, style and pronunciationpressure. However, working definition of error is needed as a reference point forthis discussion. Allwright and Bailey (1991) point out that the teacher’s response tothe student’s utterances could be considered the most important criterion for judging error in formal classroom instruction of FL teaching. From their perspective,it might be beneficial to define error as ‘ student’s utterances that need to beimproved’. In addition, there are some factors that have to be accounted for whendefining errors in the communicative speaking class; Are we able to be consistentin handling errors?, How do we correct. Who does the corrections. When do wecorrect and what do we correct?.
The Importance of Errors
There is a significant shift in attitude towards learner errors. If traditionalreview of errors in FL learning agues that errors are like sin, they should be avoided(Brook cited in Hendrickson, 1978), to day, errors are viewed as an integral part ofthe language learning, process and they are very significant (Dubin and Olshtain,1990). Clark cited in Cohen (1975) proposes another notion by saying thatinformation about errors must be regarded as punishment. It should be treaded asa form of information to the learner as well as the teachers. Hendrickson (1978)cited a number of studies which found that errors are essential as signal thatlearning is taking place and students’ progress and success could be indicated byerror occurrence. He believes that when teachers are tolerant of some studentserrors, they might feel more confident about using the target language than if theerrors are corrected. Furthermore, Gorbert (1979) suggests that errors must beseen not as signs of failure, but as signs of learning itself.
Error Correction
It is very essential to note that there are two types of errors; performanceerrors and competence errors. Performance errors are those that can be corrected
(Jurnal Ilmu Bahasa dan Sastra) Vol. 1/ No. 1/ Januari – Juni 2001
by the learners and competence errors are made as a result of an inaccurate ruleor absence of that rule in the learners interlanguage (Mendelson 1990). Teachersshould always refer to learners and ask them to correct whatever they can beforehaving other given their feedback, because a number of the errors identified arebound to be performance errors,Mendelshon (1990) added that error correction is divided into two very broadcategories; linguistic correction and sociolinguistic correction. The first includescorrection of grammar, pronunciation and other linguistic system. Sociolinguisticcorrection includes register, tone of voice and body language. Providing linguisticfeedback and sociolinguistic one are important in the FL teaching. However, it mustbe noted that sociolinguistc correction is much more important than linguisticcorrection. In normal communication, even when people talking in their mothertongue, linguistics errors often exist without breaking the communication.It is a conventional wisdom not to destroy the flow of communication bystopping the learners to correct them. Teachers must avoid interruptingcommunicative exchanges. This means a postponement of error correction until theend of the exchange or interaction could be a good idea. There are, however,certain situations in which immediate correction is necessary, and this is whencommunication has broken down because of both some linguistics andsociolinguistic difficulties. It is very essential to note that the correction must notmake learners lose their face so that they do not like to communicate.
Error Correction Criteria
Nunan (1989) asserts that one of the functions of the teachers in theclassroom is to correct learner’s errors. However, whether it is effective or notremains open to discussion. That is why this paper only proposes some criteria oferror correction that might work effectively. Mendelson (1990) argues that there arethree criteria for efficient and effective errors correction; correct selectively, chooseproductive items, correct constructively.
Selective Error Correction
It is essential to note that it is impossible for the teachers to correct all theerrors that students make. When they are overcorrected they may becomediscouraged and confused, this would probably stifle the communication. That iswhy it is necessary to view errors from the learners’ point of view. Chenoweth et al(1989) claim that learners preferences to error correction is essential, sincecorrective feedback is provided for the sake of the learners. Teachers are not

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