Friday, February 12, 2016

Should we correct people's mistaken in grammar, pronunciation, spellings etc. as they speak or text?

From experience, the clear answer is - not at all. One should never try to correct people when they are in the process of talking.
It has the following effects -
  • Makes the person feel inferior almost instantly
  • Makes the person feel you're a complete idiot to not do it softly, indirectly, later
  • Makes it a big ego issue and never achieves the desired result
Yes, even for a teacher, it is very tricky to do it in a class, as the student may be made fun of by others. This is a typical Indian habit, and an ugly one at that. The whole class may start giggling or smiling, and will make it miserable for the student concerned. So one has to then pull up everyone and teach them manners, not something to be done frequently.
So how should it be done?
  1. Make a mental note of the mistake, when committed.
  2. Indicate by your facial gesture (a minimal one) that you've identified something's wrong. (So other students who've realised it too, will know you're not ignorant of it)
  3. Let some time pass.
  4. Gently, softly, bring up that issue in a third-person tone ("Someone said a little while ago, and made this mistake while saying it, ... etc.)
  5. It is important for the student concerned to know the mistake she/he made, and for others to know it too.
For standard errors, a teacher can address the class as a group, without anyone making a mistake. A classic case is of the word "definition". Most students spell it as "defination", which is clearly wrong. Another is millennium, that mostly is written "millenium" by people. One can go to the extent of explaining roots too - for example mill(a thousand) and enn (year) that would make it permanently fixed in their minds.
For co-workers, colleagues or subordinates too, never correct them in the process. Always let a few minutes pass by, and gently do it. The only exceptions will be people who have a great learning attitude and a fantastic sense of humour, which can give you the leeway to actually pull their legs and laugh together. I had a colleague who was atrocious at English, but excellent otherwise. We would always laugh together and he'd be the one to say "Itne saalon mey mujhe toh sudhar nahin paye aap ..." (You could not improve me in so many years...). Ha ha - but such gems are very rare. Most are very sensitive people, and especially in India where having a good command over English is the end of history for us, it can be an emotional trauma for someone!
The only exception is when you are comfortably sitting in your own home, with your own children, and a mistake is made (by you or the kids)! You can even take the liberty to tease each other in a nice way. That's what families are for! 
Boss to Secretary - There are so many mistakes in this draft. Are you not careful while typing?
Secretary - Boss, it's a confidential letter anyway. How does it matter?

That's mind hunting!

~

3 comments:

Topgun said...

Thanks Sandeep sir. I normally tend to correct colleagues during our conversations. Some don't mind but few do. I lately realized that those who do mind tend to view this as a patronizing and over smart temperament of mine. But this article of yours now drives the point home and would be careful next time while correcting others.

Ajay Taya said...

there is no need to hesitate if someone tell us about our mistake because of huge knowledge available and we cannot learn even 1% of that.
If some one interrupt us during speech,at that time it annoys us however we able to know our mistake and never repeat in the future.the same concept teachers use in the school time when they explain the minor mistake which student done.For example when i was writing my mid term exam,i write "mathematic"as the sunject but when teacher check
she explain its "mathematics"because of various branch in mathematics like geometry,calculus etc.and after that i never make that mistake.
i think we should thanks if someone dares to correct our mistake.

ajay kurukshetra

sara said...

Learning new vocabulary is very interesting for fresh learners. who want to get command over language learning skills '

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