Beyond Child’s Voice: Teacher Modeling to Correct Student Errors

by Carrie Jackiewicz, Special Services Coordinator

At Child’s Voice, our staff members use modeling and imitation to correct students’ language errors. When a student produces a sentence with an error, the teacher models the correct language or speech and expects the student to imitate the model. When the student imitates the correct production, he is improving his auditory feedback loop and therefore, learning to correct his own errors. For our teachers, modeling is an ingrained skill; they quickly and seamlessly correct language and speech errors throughout the day.

Do public school classrooms teachers take the time to correct students’ errors? When I observe our alumni in their home schools, one of the things I look for is classroom teachers correcting our alumni students’ errors. During the 42 observations I have completed since the fall of 2021, I saw 9 instances where an alumni made a speech, language, or reading error. In those 9 instances, 6 teachers corrected the students’ errors by modeling or discussing the correct production (66 percent).

In my most recent observation, one of our alumni said, “I teached her” and her teacher said, “Say, ‘I taught her’” and the alumni repeated the correct production.

During an observation this fall, an alumni student and her partner were playing a math game where they were comparing towers they had built. When they were not using the language the teacher expected, the teacher modeled correct questions and sentences for them. Both the alumni and her partner began using the correct language as they interacted with each other.

In another observation, a student was unsure of how to say a word. The teacher quickly modeled the word and the student was able to imitate it and then use it in a sentence correctly.

If teachers correct our alumni’s language 66 percent of the time, how often do teachers correct errors made by children with normal hearing? In the same 42 observations, I heard at least 9 language errors produced by children with normal hearing and only 2 of those errors were corrected by teachers, which is 22 percent.

What are some possible reasons that teachers would not correct errors for both our alumni and their hearing peers? Perhaps they did not want to interrupt the pace of their lesson or they did not hear the error. I hope to continue to encourage teachers to correct errors from both our alumni and their hearing peers through my observation reports and other resources I share with them.