My way of correcting writing

I just want to share my way of correcting writing.

I tend to value breaking up the process to allow your mind to get used to the writing. I also value responding to the meaning of writing since I think learners are more likely to go back an learn from their mistakes if someone values their opinions. I think praise about specific things in the writing is more important than general “That was great” types of statements.

Here are the steps I go through:

  1. I read the writing through without correcting anything.
  2. I immediately write a response in the writing report to the meaning of what was written. I don’t comment on the correctness of the writing. The only evaluation I make is about the ideas in the writing. Do I agree/disagree with the writer’s propositions? Why? Any illustrative anecdotes that back up my conclusions?
  3. I wait for at least a 1/4 hour or longer. (Usually for me it is several hours)
  4. I reread the writing making corrections that are easy to correct.
  5. I reread my response to see if I can add or edit it.
  6. another waiting period of at least 15 minutes
  7. I reread the writing for more subtle corrections.
  8. I look for one, and only one pattern in the corrections that I can comment on in the report, ignoring all the mistakes that fall outside the pattern. If there is no pattern, I don’t write anything.
  9. If there is any great English writing-- a sentence that really stands out for example-- I will comment about it in the report.
  10. Submit

This looks like a lot, but it is a reasonable expenditure of time for the reward.

I think we can have a variety of correcting styles here, just as we have a variety of tutoring styles.

Here is what I do.

  1. I usually correct as I read
  2. I correct every phrase that does not sound natural in English. I want the final product to be natural English.
  3. I try not to be influenced with the writer’s ideas. I only want to make sure that I can understand what is said, and that it is normal English. I do not try to improve the choice of words unless it is wrong. I will offer some advice on style for an advanced learner ( shorten the sentences, avoid general words like “get”.)
  4. When I have finished I read the corrected text to make sure it does not contain any missed errors or unnatural English.
  5. I review the errors, and the statistics to find a common problem.
  6. I comment on the most common problem in my comments and add some words of encouragement. I may also comment in style in the comments section,

I see the writing correction as more of an opportunity to identify structural problems in the learners language. We should probably offer a course on writing, as in writing style. It might be a good idea to create a course on the subject and find some content for the Library that would be relevant for such a course.

Anyway, Edward, thank you for the thoroughness of your writing correction.

Uau, I guess I’ll submit a writing for Edward one day, to see this amazing process at work!!


You have corrected my writing and submitted discussion reports to me for my Portuguese. Whatever you do, please keep doing it. You are great and the same for Tana and Rasana in Russian.

thanks. In sense, I follow the process you just described, although more informally. I just read the text until it seems natural Portuguese for me. Then, I try to comment on the most common problem.