Teaching How to Use Technology to Self-correct Word Choices in ESL Writing

Step 1: DIAGNOSIS - Understanding Word Choice Problems

Step 2: TRAINING - Learning Word Choice Reference Tools

Step 3: APPLICATION 1 - Guided Self-Correction Homework 
1. Teacher Guide (Could be given right after or before Step 2):
  • Student's Writing (Highlighted in a Draft):"...Other people think that grade inflation is natural because opportunity for students such as job is depended mainly by grade." 
  • Problem: You have a word (preposition) choice problem here 
  • Search Strategy: Type in “job opportunity depended mainly *” in Google or COCA and check which preposition is the most common in the results.
2. Student Response: "I looked at the sentences that appeared on the first page of search result (see the screenshot below) and discover that on or upon is always used in this context. I also realized that is depended should be depends and mainly comes after depend"

3. Teacher Feedback: "Yes, you also might have discovered from this page that job opportunity is typically used as a plural form."

Application Homework Instruction Sample (See Part 4, Step 1)

Step 4: APPLICATION 2 - Independent Self-correction Homework

1. Student's Homework
  • Student's Writing (Highlighted in a Draft): "....For example, when I applying a job, as an entry level, I am nobody, the recruiters always filter by GPA."
  • Problem: A preposition is missing here.
  • Revision: applying a job -> applying for a job
  • Search Process: I searched “apply” and “job” as collocates on COCA since I was not sure if I need preposition after apply. After viewing the result below, I decided to put “for” after “apply”.

2. Teacher Feedback: Great job. You also have the same error in the following sentence: "GPA is as important as well for applying school." You can use the same preposition here (i.e. applying for school).