Na Nobu
Do you want a perfect correction?

There are many type of people who correct someone's sentences by his or her mother tongue.

Some leaner understand a language well, the other don't.

I have tried not to make corrections perfect  to beginners, because I think perfect corrections make them confused, so considering what they are studying now, I have stoped correcting it not to become high level, but of course, have corrected it to be grammatically correct.

Do language learners want a perfect correction like native speakers' sentences even if they are beginners?

May 3, 2019 6:05 AM
Comments · 13
Nobu, I do (absolutely!) but I don't write notebooks:/ 
I take it as a linguist would: I take it as <em>information</em> about the language. There is no such a thing as "too much information":) I can use the part which I need at the moment, and ignore what I don't need. But I will actually analyze everything:) Also I'm aware that native speakers often make mistakes too, that some corrections they do are not about mistakes, and I see that in Russian many people correct good Russian to <em>worse</em> Russian.

I think the same happens with other languages.

One certainly good thing to do is to mark somehow obvious mistakes, less obvious mistakes (and more natural ways to say something) and suggestions.

But I heard complaints from learners at confusing corrections.
Many learners don't look at this as a linguists look at native speakers. Rather they look at it as from the point of view that each thing is either "error" or "correct". Each time they receive correction they think they wrote something Very Wrong. And they are confused when each word is corrected:)

The fact that some correctors may change the style (without marking it to make it clear that it's style, not an error) and moreover, change the style to <em>worse </em>makes it a nightmare for them:)

So we have two groups of people. Perhaps people from the second group are more common.
May 3, 2019

Everyone likes different kinds of corrections. There are learners who don't want to be corrected at all, others who want every tiny thing corrected and others want only the big mistakes corrected. For me, it depends on the level I have in the target language. As I'm quite advanced in English, I'd like to have all errors (also punctuation and style) corrected. But when I'm a complete beginner, I only want real grammatical and vocabulary mistakes to be corrected. If I struggle to introduce myself, I'm just happy to learn to do it in an adequate and understandable way and it doesn't have to be great prose. I think stylistic corrections should be marked because they might confuse learners. Let's say I write "I'm Miriam" and somebody corrects it to "My name is Miriam" without further explaining it, I'll wonder what was so wrong with my first sentence that it had to be changed completely. It happened to me with a Russian text I once wrote. I tried my best to be grammatically correct and even asked a native speaker for help before uploading my text. One corrector then changed my text completely and I couldn't figure out what was wrong with my original version. It turned out that it was grammatically correct but the corrector just wanted to change the style or write it in a nicer way but that was too overwhelming for me. I still have to figure out, how to handle 5 to 7 different corrections for the same text. When I open my notebook and see that 7 people corrected a short text of mine and there are a lot of corrections I don't understand, I often get discouraged. 

When I correct, I either follow the wishes of my language partner and correct everything if they wish so or only the big mistakes, or I assess the level and then correct in a way that I deem right, i.e. for beginners I correct everything that is wrong, while for intermediate learners, I'll add suggestions to make something sound nicer/more natural and for advanced learners I get nit-picky.

May 3, 2019


Your thoughts about authenticity vs accuracy are very interesting. I do strive for accuracy more than authenticity. I try to avoid typical native speakers' mistakes  (e.g. using "lay" instead of "lie") but always try to use grammatically correct language. Of course, I make mistakes but I don't try to sound like a native speaker but an educated non-native speaker. Many learners strive authenticity and believe they sound like natives if they use contractions like wanna, gonna, woulda, ain't or a lot of idioms but they often fail and don't sound like natives at all. In my previous comment I gave the example of 

Das Auto von meinem Vater. vs Das Auto meines Vaters.

The typical native German colloquial way would be to say

Meinem Vater sein Auto.

This is an authentic sentence. Sounds very native but also uneducated and it's grammatically wrong. 

May 5, 2019

Hanji, thank you for your opinion.

I agree with you.

I think proper correction is the one leaners can understand and overcome.

May 4, 2019
Miriam, I think this change (I'm Miriam меня зовут) can be not exactly stylistical. Different phrases are used in different languages in the same situation. Sometimes because of grammar and sometimes it is just a habit. And this is how langauges are different. After all using 赤 instead of "red" is just a habit of Japanese. A stylistical choise:) But it makes it Japanese.

A corrector can't know how exactly you express this in German. A corrector can only react at "not exactly natural" choice and offer something "natural". But it is hard to know when a learner consciously used different style and for me it is always a sourse of confusion: what if a learner said somethign grammatically correct but unusual?

Russians may be using "I'm Miriam" less often, I don't know. In Russian we don't have "is" so two nouns in a row may sound worse. But we do say this in meny contexts!

I think, correctors logic was this: "Miriam only said it this way because she doesn't know how to say "my name is". But it is a very basic phrase! Let's teach it to Miriam!". And yours was "I made a mistake". Different expectations.
if she warned you....

P.S. sometimes a learner says something unusual, but better than usual. Very precise and creative expression of idea which not many native speakers would come up with but which sounds natural.
And sometimes a corrector offers a cliché instead: something that I would never write myself, but something schoolkids write because they think that teachers expect them to use a boring cliché.
This creates an interesting problem of learning. What if your native langauge (or your play with Russian words) gave you an advantage (in terms of style)? How much you should imitate imitative native speakers? 

May 4, 2019
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