IWTYAL 219: How to help students with fossilisation
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Matthias asks: “How can I help my students deal with fossilisation?”
- Fossilisation is when a mistake becomes deeply embedded in a learner's language after years of “doing it wrong”
- It can occur in grammar, pronunciation, incorrect word choice (e.g. “it's mean”, “why you have…?”)
- In my teaching experience, fixing fossilisation is tricky because it amounts to reprogramming someone who usually doesn't want to change
- Fixing fossilisation has to begin with awareness
- If a student has come to you, it's because they're looking for an external solution, whereas it's the student who has learnt the mistake in the first place – only they can unlearn it
- As a teacher, you can go hard or soft, it depends on how best the student will react to it
- I would set the student tasks to do at home, as it relieves pressure on the student
- Set awareness-raising activities, followed up with regular highlighting of mistakes in lessons
People like to change their mind in private.
– Sam Harris
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