Error Correction

The Backseat Linguist is a new blog devoted to commenting on research in second language acquisition and language education. It is written by Jeff McQuillan, a former university professor of applied linguistics and education, and now a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Educational Development in Los Angeles, California. His research is largely based on Stephen Krashen’s Comprehension Hypothesis, which states that:

“We acquire language when we understand messages, when we understand what people tell us and when we understand what we read.”

– Stephen Krashen

I found Jeff’s most recent post on Error Correction to be very interesting. The following quote sums up his post nicely:

“Other studies… have found accuracy improves significantly simply through more reading, without the extensive (and time-consuming) [Written Corrective Feedback] used here.”

– Jeff McQuillan

Teachers who are a part of the TPRS community have likely heard before that error correction does not really benefit students. In terms of language acquisition, it is better to provide them with more input than to waste time making corrections to their completed work. If you have ever tried to correct a child who is learning their first language, you will see that no matter how many times you correct their speech, they will not acquire the appropriate structure until they are ready. A child that says “I runned” may repeat “I ran” after being corrected by an adult, but the next time they want to use the structure they will still say “I runned.” It is not possible force acquisition of a structure. All we can do is provide more input and eventually the child or student will use the correct form.

German Popular Music

If you are looking for music to use in your German classes, the Goethe Institute has a great site that lists top songs and artists. They have also created some useful worksheets to go along with the songs. The worksheets include the lyrics to the song and some “traditional” exercises, but you can use what you want to and just get rid of the rest! They are written entirely in German so you may also need to make them more comprehensible for your students if you decide to use them.

My personal favourite from the current list is Wir sind wir by Paul van Dyk und Peter Heppner. This song deals with the deep feeling of emotional insecurity that permeated the German society in the early 21st century and there are a lot of things that could be done with it. The video also shows several key clips from German history that would be useful for starting a discussion. All this material AND it’s actually a good song!

Source: Nathan Black, mjTPRS


Quia is a website that allows you to create several different types of educational games and activities. There is a free version, where you can access activities that have been created by others, but to get full functionality it requires a subscription ($49 per year). One way to use this site is to create listening activities that students can listen to outside of class. Record yourself (or a native speaker) telling a story using a program like Audacity or Garageband. The story can be a version of a story done in class, a new story using the same structures you’ve been working on, or a story that a student has written. Once the story has been recorded, you can upload the listening file to Quia and insert the file into a quiz. You can also add a visual to go along with it so students can hear the story and see the corresponding picture. You can also write comprehension questions to go along with the story which students answer online. The wonderful thing about Quia is that you can build a collection of CI-based stories that students can access outside of class time.

Source: Jane Vanderbeek, moreTPRS


Photovisi is a free and easy to use online photo collage maker. You can select one of the many designs, add your photos and then customize by dragging items around. After the collage is finished, it’s available to download and print. These collages can be used in many different ways that are CI and TPRS friendly. You can use it as a storystrip to create a story or as the basis for a retell. It can also be used to assess how well students have acquired certain structures by asking them to point at or write down the number of the corresponding frame after you say a sentence from the story.



CLEAR is a website designed by the Center for Language Education And Research at Michigan State University and it can be very useful for second language teachers. It has several Rich Internet Applications for Language Learning which are described below:

  • Audio Dropboxes: Put a dropbox in any web page. Students’ recordings are deposited into your dropbox automatically.
  • Broadcasts: A podcasting program for language learning.
  • Conversations: Record questions for your students to answer asynchronously.
  • Mashups: Combine video, audio, text and interactive exercises.
  • Quiz Break: A highly flexible program that allows teachers to create fun, Jeopardy©-like games for the language classroom.
  • Revisions: Process writing environment for the 21st century!
  • Scribbles: Handwriting practice online!
  • SMILE: Create your own interactive language-practice exercises.
  • Video Dropboxes: Put a dropbox in any web page. Students’ recordings are deposited into your dropbox automatically.
  • Viewpoint: Surpassing the functionality of YouTube, Viewpoint lets you upload videos, record live video, and add subtitles.
  • Worksheets: Interactive worksheets to use with your textbook.

You do have to register for an account, but it is free and very worthwhile!