How to correct difficult submissions?

Sometimes writing submissions are rather difficult… Misspellings, prepositions, cases, verb aspects, gender, word-by-word translations from English / native language… Now I am correcting one a very hard submission (it is an interesting writing and I do like the student who wrote it, but I can’t finish this correction…) I’ve already correct almost all misspellings and wrong cases, the rate is 1 error every 5 words, but still when I read it, I can’t understand what it is. I mean, I understand what is written, but we don’t speak such way at all, it is not unnatural usage, it is a bunch of mistakes of different type (moreover, when I read it to my mom, she can’t understand at all). I can’t return this submission in this state (1 error every 5 words), but I don’t want to rewrite whole sentences… I try to do a minimum correction of a sentence structure, but in this case it is too difficult – it is easier to rewrite phrases :(( But I don’t want to do it, and I don’t want upset a student with all these corrections… I just don’t know what to do.

Hi Rasana, sometimes I have the same problem. I correct the obvious errors like you did. Additional I wrote a new version as a recommendation and put it into the comment.

Even with better students I add a new version to give suggestions how to do the writing in a better or in another way.

Thanks, Vera! Your suggestion is very helpful! I’ll do it this way :slight_smile:

Frankly Rasana, once I have corrected about 1 error every 15 words I stop trying to correct every single mistake and just sum up in general what I consider the student should prioritise on. Eg sometimes the spelling is really bad, so I say “there are several spelling mistakes here, I think it would help you to the built-in spell checker.”

If someone’s Russian is that bad, then what are the chances that they will even understand many of your corrections? There’s little point explaining (in Russian) the use of the perfective vs the imperfective to someone who clearly has no idea how to form even the present tense.

I have had at least one submission that was so bad I couldn’t understand what it was meant to be about! I made the most sensible suggestions I could (e.g. about the spell checker) but I really had to say "I don’t understand this, a native wouldn’t use the phrases you use. It wuould help if you could rewrite it using shorter, simpler sentences).

You also don’t (in my opinion) have to correct all the case errors, you could say “you made several mistakes with genitive noun and adjective endings, go and look them up and practice using them.”

Remember the student is only paying you for 15 minutes of your time per 150 of their submitted words. They are not paying you to perform a complete, native-level rewrite their words. If they want that, then it will take you langer and there are ways that they can pay you extra for it.

You are always really conscientious correcting my Russian, I worry that you might get bored and decide to stop doing it, which would be terrible for me and all the Russian learners on LingQ!

Helen, I agree with you too. But I just can’t do this way. Russian words have so many inflexions, and it does not take much time to correct them, so I usually correct it – but without any comment. If I will not correct inflexion, a student with a good visual memory will remember this incorrect usage. Anyway, I agree that more corrections don’t mean more usefulness, that’s why I usually do not comment on case, misspelling and preposition error type.

Hi Helen, I agree with Rasana. It’s the same in German. I never got a submission with less then 1 error every 15 words. The best one had 1 error every 13 words. I’m glad if students have less than 1 error every 8 words. Only 35 % of the writings that I receive are 1 error every 8 words or better!

Helen, by the way, I wonder does LingQ check spelling function work properly? Japanese check spelling did not work (so, I use Rikaichan for check whether I conjugate verb properly or not, and I never submit writing while Rikaichan can’t understand every verb I wrote). I always use FireFox check spelling Add-On (in Russian too!), and wonder why students don’t do it. Feedback will be bigger, if student submits writing without spelling errors.

I checked my own Japanese writings: only the last was with rate error/word 1/17 (the reason is that before I wrote messages for 4 Japanese and received answers. So, I just remembered what words and phrases natives use in this situation). All others are 1/7, 1/6 or even 1/4! You know that there are case particles in Japanese, that are like case endings in Russian, but in Russian it is the ending (I mean it counts as 1 word on LingQ), but in Japanese it is a particle.
watashi no ane no heya wa hiroi desu. - 8 words
in Russian it is:
komnata moej sestry bolshaya. - 4 words
And anyway I am able to do 1 error in every 4 words! gg In Russian it would be something like 1/3 or even 1/2 %)

I’m not too sure if it works properly - my instinct told me hat I had in fact spelled a word correctly, the spell checker didn’t agree, so I changed it, and got an error…

Oh, the wonders of technology.

Rasana - I think mine was the writing that was so difficult for you. I apologize. I will try to stick to more basic topics with simpler terminology.

the reason is that there was one distressing news last weekend, and I just did not able collect myself and do my job properly.

You can write several small writings on the same topic instead one big. Small writings have several advantages both for tutor and student:

  • for a tutor it is easier to correct, so he do not get tired and is able to think up more examples;
  • for a student it is easier to notice his mistakes – because their number is fewer.
    Moreover, we tend to do the same mistakes. But, if you divide your writing into several parts, after receiving the first part, you can notice some typical mistakes. So there is a probability that at the second part you will not do them. :wink:

I think that it is more important to correct a small amount of text, and to catch every error, rather than to leave corrected texts with lots of mistakes.

Once you have spent 15 minutes on 150 words of submitted writing, or the equivalent, you can stop and send it back as corrected. You can explain that there are so many mistakes that you only had time to correct this little bit. Recommend that the learner simplify , write shorter sentences or whatever in order to reduce the rate of errors. As the error rate gets better, it will be possible to correct longer pieces of text.

Correctors are not obliged to correct spelling mistakes, although it is hard to resist doing so. Learners should be encouraged to used spell checkers.

Spelling errors is one type of mistakes and learners should use more the spell checker; however the other types of mistakes should be corrected.
I would prefer to receive a writing with 1 error every 5 words than 1 error every 20 words because only the main and bigger mistakes were corrected. It is confusing. In the learner’s mind, all that is not corrected is good so he or she will redo the same mistakes. Another thing is about words or expressions that are no longer in use. If they are not pointed out because they are not seen as ‘big’ mistakes, how the learner will know? It can be written in the comment or noted as a mistake, no matter but I see this as important too.
Of course, if a writing is very long and full of mistakes, and therefore difficult and long to correct, as it has already been written above, shorter writings could be suggested.

" I would prefer to get back a writing I wrote with 1 error every 5 words than 1 error every 20 words… "