After the focus on form stage, where the students looked at patches to improve, it is time to apply the final coat and complete the best possible painting job. The students go back into the main task and do their best to avoid repeating the error they worked on in the focus on form. There has to be an uptake on the form. Accuracy comes to the fore. From the focus on form stage onwards, students and teacher alike are given permission to recast each other, meaning that they are allowed to correct each other on the point covered as a class if it occurs. A recast is the ability to “spot each other’s error” when someone has left out an unpainted spot and the student’s attention is being brought to that spot.
The recast can be done in four ways:
1) The student or teacher rephrases the sentence by correcting it.
2) The student or teacher repeats the student’s phrase with the error in it as a question (for example, “you have went to Auckland?”) to force the student to look at what he has said or written.
3) The student or teacher says “Pardon?” in the target language hoping to prompt a self-correction from the student who has made an error.
4) A combination of the above.
There is not one recast way that is better than the other ones. I tend to use the B and A option with the students who have no idea what the error might be. With the students that are quite capable or those that need a bit of a shake up, I use option C. It all depends on the recast you are comfortable with and what the student can deal with.
However, it is vital to train the students to recast each other when they are rehearsing their end product to see a lift in their performance level.
Do a class demonstration with two students interacting with one another and you as the “error spotter.” Then do another class demonstration with three students whereby one of the three students is the “error spotter.” Next, you get them to do the same exercise in pairs and then in their group. It is one of those routine skills that will not “naturally” happen in your class unless they are worked on.
If it is a “Write-pair-share” strategy followed by a group report that you have chosen as a main task, other groups can recast the student. Personally, the recasting seems more appropriate when it is to be done in written form and passed on to the appropriate group after the report to the class is over. It is less traumatic than halting a student’s momentum in front of everyone else. Usually, students do not like to get it wrong when it is time to report in front of the whole class as they want to access what is coined as the “language of prestige” (Doing task-based teaching, Jane Willis, 2007, p.169).
If it is the “Interview as many people as possible” strategy you have chosen as a main task, students can recast each other in verbal form. As it is not in front of the whole class, they are usually less inhibited by the one-on-one verbal recasting.
- Train your students to recast each other