Language to Identify for Students to Correct

Commenting on language: What can students correct if it is identified for them?

Non-native speakers of English can correct language issues that are linked to clear rules in English. While an instructor may need to initially point out the error, the student should be able to look for and revise such errors without continued assistance. Below are some of the error patterns most commonly found in non-native speaker writing. In the next section, a variety of strategies help instructors identify errors for students.                                                                                                         

If a student writes:     The problem is:
He go there often. 

Subject-Verb Agreement
Some languages do not have subject-verb agreement, so students from those language backgrounds may often write sentences like this. English has clear rules that students can review. Many times it is more a matter of focus than an issue of learning new rules.

The researches are done by scientists.

Singular/Plural Noun Endings 
Students are often confused by singular versus plural forms of nouns, but most uses can be linked to specific rules for things like indefinite pronouns, either/neither, there/here, words ending in –s, count and non-count nouns (though count/non-count can be difficult since some nouns can be used in one context as "count" and in another as "non-count": "I have experience." vs. "The experiences he had in Russia changed him.")

was having a pen.

Verb Tenses
How and when certain verb tenses are used can be directly linked to rules. Sometimes instructors may need to explain why one tense is more effective than another or particularly used in a discipline.

She may is going to Canada.

Verb Forms
This is also rule based. All tenses are formed in only one way. For example, any modal verb like may, will, can cannot be followed by a verb that is conjugated – it must be in root/base form: may + “be going.”

The boy slipped on the ice ground.

Word Forms
The student has the right word but the wrong form of the word, so the student needs to review what type of word can be used in a particular position in an English sentence (ice noun or verb; icily adverb; iced past tense verb or adjective; icy adjective; iciness noun)

He drove to __ store.

__ United States is __ big country.

Use of a, an, the
There are several languages that do not use articles. In English, all singular, countable nouns need an article (with rare exceptions). Choosing the right one can be tricky, but there are general rules that fix many article problems. However, it is unlikely they will do it perfectly all of the time.

The results did not come out like we expected it to.

Pronoun use in English is more extensive and complicated than many other languages, but with careful review, students can match the pronoun to the noun.

There are numberous reasons to quit.

With spell-checkers, students should be able to check their own spelling, particularly if there is a read line underneath the incorrectly spelled word. Students may spell a new word based on what they already know. Here, “number” has been used as the root to make an adjective by adding “ous.”

The house is big it is in the center of town, I live there. With my family.

Punctuation/Run-on Sentences
Many languages do not use punctuation as frequently as we do in English. Students can review rules that will help them avoid run-on sentences, comma splices, and fragments.