Writing and writing correction - how to get the most out of it.
Administrator
steve 7243 161 55542
Writing is a great way to improve our language skills. At the exchange at LingQ you can have your writing corrected by native speakers of the language you are learning.

Don't expect that having your writing corrected will fix your grammar mistakes. Research consistently shows that writing correction is not effective in correcting mistakes. However, just the act of writing, in the knowledge that someone else will review what you write, forces you to put a lot of effort into looking up words and grammar as you construct what you want to say in the language you are learning.

When I correct English I find that "use of words" is by far the most common area of error, rather than particular points of grammar. That is why I would only ask a native speaker to correct my writing. Usually it is only a native speaker, or someone who has lived in the country where the language is spoken for a long time, who has that natural sense for standard usage.

What I find most useful when I get my corrected writing back, is to save the phrases and patterns that my corrector has used to replace what I wrote, to make it more natural. So the writing correction report becomes content for me at LingQ!

Here is a video I did on the subject.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gfdw-dluKec

August 2014
  • Moderator
    Yutaka 15406 1621
    "That is why I would only ask a native speaker to correct my writing. "
    Some tutors are more native than others.
    August 2014
    • Administrator
      steve ca Canada 7243 161 55542
      Agreed. Not all corrections made by native speakers are well done. It is best to wait to distribute points. Often more than one person corrects the text. That is a major advantage of the Exchange. Previously only one person could correct a text. I would not want a text corrected by a non-native speaker, however.
      August 2014
  • Moderator
    VeraI 18603 2664 651
    And some non-natives think they are better than natives ...
    August 2014
  • Cosmo678 5520 2295 27697
    I don’t agree 100%. I know a lot of non-natives that write grammatically better than natives. I have seen here at lingq a lot of writing corrections (French and German) that were not 100% correct.
    I also believe that a non-native teacher is better for beginners because he/she will know the problems learning the foreign language. What concerns speaking, a native speaker is of course the better choice.
    August 2014
    • Administrator
      steve ca Canada 7243 161 55542
      I agree that non-natives often write and even speak more grammatically correctly than some natives. It is also true that not all corrections done by natives are well done. Sometimes unnecessary corrections are made or mistakes are missed. That is why it is best to wait until awarding points.
      For a beginner it really does not matter much who corrects since there are so many mistakes or examples of unnatural usage. However, for intermediate and advanced learners the issue is usually unnatural phrasing and usage and there I would not have confidence in a non-native corrector. I would not award points to a non-native. I want to learn natural phrases and native like use of words. I am not so concerned about grammar issues which I know i have to get used to on my own.
      Here are some links to studies that show that correcting grammar mistakes has little effect.
      http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Gray-WritingCorrec...
      http://www.hss.nthu.edu.tw/~fl/faculty/John/Gra...
      http://www.temple.edu/gradmag/volume2/loewen.htm
      August 2014
      • Cosmo678 de Germany 5520 2295 27697
        The only thing I wanted to say is that a native speaker is not a guarantee for correct corrections. I receive a lot of emails(for my job) from all over the world. There are not many that write correctly.
        When someone of France is mixing parle, parlé, parler, it is inacceptable for me. I am only intermediate in Spanish but I receive a lot of emails from south America (Peru, Argentina, Columbia)where even I see the mistakes.
        That is the reason, why I have more confidence when my text is corrected by someone who is teacher or a professional translator even if he/she is not a native.
        August 2014
        • Administrator
          steve ca Canada 7243 161 55542
          I understand your point. However, most mistakes that you get from native speakers are careless mistakes "parler, parlez" etc. or spelling mistakes that the Latin Americans seem so prone to commit, especially since soft "c" and "z" are pronounced like "s" and not like "th" as in Spain. We all have our preferences. It may well be that a good teacher or translator will be better at rephrasing examples of awkward usage, and that is important to me. As for the odd carless mistake, spelling mistake, or even wrong case, the evidence shows that the correction has little effect.
          August 2014
          • Cosmo678 de Germany 5520 2295 27697
            I am sorry Steve but that is point on which I cannot agree. If someone claims he can correct a french text and is confusing parler, parlez,… he should better do something else. (perhaps starting learning french with lingq )
            August 2014
        • Moderator
          SanneT gb United Kingdom 487 343
          I am one of those non-natives that Vera had perhaps in mind. I know that I am better than some natives! I have lived in the UK for a long, long time and I am pretty sure I know most of the ins and outs of the language. :)
          August 2014
          • Administrator
            steve ca Canada 7243 161 55542
            Sanne, that is why I said a native or someone who has lived in the country where the language is spoken for a long time. But there are always exceptions, but usually someone needs to use the language a lot to be really on top of natural usage.
            August 2014
          • Cosmo678 de Germany 5520 2295 27697
            Sanne, non-natives better than natives do exist!
            August 2014
            • Moderator
              VeraI de Germany 18603 2664 651
              They exist but they are not wide spread. The problem are the non-natives who think they know it better, but they do not. Natives can sometimes not explain the grammar, but they know how to use the language without having to think about it.
              August 2014
          • Moderator
            VeraI de Germany 18603 2664 651
            Sanne, no I didn't have you in mind. I know that your knowledge of English is amazing!
            August 2014
    • Moderator
      VeraI de Germany 18603 2664 651
      I cannot speak for other languages but the writing corrections in the German slot with the biggest problems are the ones by non-natives. Natives sometimes oversee a typo or a slight problem too, but all overall they have a better knowledge. Especially regarding the natural use of the language they are much better. A non-native speaker can be helpful for a beginner especially if he has the same native language. That is where I agree. But as soon as possible a student should switch to a native speaker. To make it clear: I'm speaking of a well educated native speaker.
      August 2014
  • Moderator
    Yutaka 15406 1621
    I doubt whether there is a well-written, very natural essay that includes several so-called grammatical errors. There is not such a thing. The 'Writing Correction' service on LingQ is very useful. I imagine that native tutors can tell which expression is incorrect, even if they cannot explain the unnaturalness or errors in grammatical terms.

    I am not interested in writing an essay like one in The New Yorker; I welcome minimum correction. It is useful to differentiate between 'incorrect', 'okay', and 'better'. I hope that tutors make corrections with these differences in mind. If I were a tutor of Japanese, I would point to 'incorrectness' and suggest a better expression.
    August 2014
    • Administrator
      steve ca Canada 7243 161 55542
      I agree. We advise our correctors to only correct obvious examples of incorrect or poor usage. We should not over-correct but rather stay as faithful as possible to the intent of the writer.
      August 2014
    • Cosmo678 de Germany 5520 2295 27697
      I agree, but please read my comment on the comment of Steve
      August 2014
  • neofight78 14410
    I agree completely, corrections, whether its for writing or speaking, in themselves don't automatically help you get it right next time. But they do help highlight areas where you may need to focus, i.e. "Ok, I'm getting corrected on the genitive case a lot, so I'll spend some time working on that". But also I think if you can take those corrected sentences and revisit them, via rereading or flashcards then that can help reinforce the correct patterns whether its grammar or word usage. At least that's the theory I'm operating on at the moment. Like you say, the corrections become content. But certainly just "making a mental note" has zero effect, if they did my Russian would be perfect by now!
    August 2014
    • Ferdy gb United Kingdom 7062
      I work for an international company and whilst some Europeans can speak excellence European English ( for want of a better phrase) once you start chatting with them they are often lost. So although within their limited vocab they may be gramatically exčellent, they all without fail, make mistakes only a 5 year old would in England. A good example of this is: 'i need the report til Friday'. My point is, although non-natives may excel in certain areas, overall i would tend to opt for the native speaker.

      Also to say: ´I know I am better than some natives', sounds a little conceited at best.
      August 2014
      • Moderator
        Yutaka jp Japan 15406 1621
        "So although within their limited vocab they may be gramatically exčellent, they all without fail, make mistakes only a 5 year old would in England."--Ferdy
        I suppose this is really true. I understand that five-year old boys are not working for the company.
        August 2014
      • jviktors lv Latvia 6115 16304
        As a "speaker of European English" I find the phrase "i need the report til Friday'" perfectly fine :)

        (and now you have ruined it for me, I will never be able to use this phrase again)

        On a serious note, I also work for an International company (mostly working with partners in continental Europe, so almost no native speakers of English), the language of correspondence is English and "the report until Friday" is the mildest mistake I can think about (and until your post I would use it without the slightest hesitation).
        August 2014
        • Administrator
          steve ca Canada 7243 161 55542
          We are all capable of making spelling mistakes and typos or other careless mistakes in our own language. There are a few in Ferdy's post, and I make a lot of them myself.
          I am always conscious of the fact that when I speak a foreign language, I may use unnatural phrasing. I look to writing correction as one opportunity to take note of these habits of mine in the hope that I can slowly reduce the occurrence of these mistakes.
          There are examples of these kinds of common mistakes of usage in jviktors post here, and especially in Cosmo's profile. If you would like, I will point them out.
          August 2014
          • jviktors lv Latvia 6115 16304
            I'm looking forward to see my mistakes pointed out :)
            August 2014
            • Administrator
              steve ca Canada 7243 161 55542
              Not a big deal but you can "think about" an issue, a problem, a book etc. but you "think of" a specific occurrence, like the "mildest mistake" your colleagues make.
              Also "'until your post I would have used it without..."
              August 2014
        • Ferdy gb United Kingdom 7062
          Jviktors, just replace with one of the following:

          I need the report by Friday
          You have until Friday to submit the report
          August 2014
        • [[Ginkgo58]] aw Aruba 376 100585 144
          Only if you need to keep the report (one that has already been written) until Friday. 'Til Friday' is better written as 'until Friday'. The pronoun 'I' is always written in upper case.
          August 2014
          • Ferdy gb United Kingdom 7062
            @ginko, yes you're right, and this is my point exactly. Something that seems a small mistake actually gives completely different meaning to the sentence. Another common mistake involves using 'coming' instead of 'going', 'how' instead of 'what', etc etc. These mistakes are commonly accepted as correct in European English. When i first arrived i got very confused, but now I've learnt to translate.

            We can argue about 'til, till and until, till the cows come home, but they don't change the meaning of a sentence. I usually write 'til although I'm pretty sure there is no such word. Till or until I believe are the correct English forms.
            August 2014
  • iaing 27678
    The book "Make it Stick, the science of learning" talks a lot about the importance of "reflection" and "elaboration" as learning techniques. For language learning, I find that writing engages both of these techniques (above the level for which reading, listening, speaking alone will bring to me). Often, when speaking, I don't reflect a great deal on conversations. Often, when reading and listening, I don't elaborate on the material I have just absorbed.
    August 2014
    • evgueny40 ru Russian Federation 1720 70019 5772
      Writing is a good exercise by language learning. And it's an important part of the language exam if you somewhen would like to have it. There are 4 parts in the exam: listening, reading, speaking and writing. You can prove your writing skills in Lingq.com by posting your writings here. You needn't to write a long text: 6-8 sentences would be enough to see your typical grammar and stylistic mistakes. What about writing corrections I think they are often too captious, every tutor wants to add his\her 'two pence', especially in English- and I believe that such nagging, faultfinding corrections are hardly useful for the 'poor student' who is to decide which correction is better. What about 'native' and 'non-native' correctors. Of course, the native speakers can better see all stylistic mistakes, but often the non-native teachers can better improve and explain (that's often a weak point of the native speakers!) your grammar mistakes. If you are interested, you can read my article here in Lingq.com in Russian and in English: 'How to write and verify written texts'. Here is the link to the English version: http://www.lingq.com/learn/en/store/119506/4203...
      And here you can find the Russian version of the article "Как писать и как проверять письменные тексты" : http://www.lingq.com/learn/ru/store/71918/41105...
      August 2014
  • Moderator
    Yutaka 15406 1621
    I think that the LingQ forum is the best place for practicing writing. You can write in every language on almost everything under the sun, and you can expect insightful responses from the LingQ members.

    P.S.
    This message was not written as an advertisement. I wrote this for the sake of it, addicted to writing in English.
    August 2014
  • Moderator
    Yutaka 15406 1621
    @SanneT
    In a sense, the LingQ forum is a relatively safe space; most of us are just interested in learning one, two, or more foreign languages. I have a blog, but I don't want to see my blog receiving flames from anonymous people. My blog is not interactive; I receive no comments there. However, you are an insightful moderate person, so you might be safe in any space. ( I wrote this for the sake of it. )
    August 2014
    • Fasulye de Germany 1415 2707
      If you have your own blog, you can select which people are allowed to give comments there. I only allow people with official nicknames to give comments and their comments are only posted after I have acknowledged them. With such regulations trolling is made impossible.
      August 2014