Some of my students just can’t wait to replace good English with bad. I work on a structure or some pronunciation and get everyone to say it. Then someone immediately interrupts with some other, bad, English.

For example, we’ve been working with the future expressions, and one of them is “I’d like to”. We’ve been over and over the fact that we have to use contractions and “I would like to” is not in the book because we don’t say it that way. Because they don’t use contractions, some of them say “I like to” without “d”. They end up with “I like to travel to Europe one day.”

I went around the room getting example from everyone until I had them all saying it correctly. After the last one finished one of them said “Teacher, I can say ‘I would like’.”

“No, you can’t.”


I had already explained it. It is my goal to get the students using English they way we actually speak it. The book agrees with me on this point.

Sometimes, my students drive me mental asking me things over and over and retaining very little. Often, they miss their chance to learn good English. They are too busy talking over the other students, arguing, checking their phones, or staring into space. Sometimes I feel like I’m saying the same thing over and over.

Honestly, that’s not our job.

Saying it over and over is the students’ job.

Repeat the correct answer

When you are checking the answers for an exercise, get the students to say them. Then have the others repeat the correct answer and/or write it down. I only give them the answer if none of the students has it.

The problem is, they often don’t listen to each other. Sometimes they don’t understand each other. Say “Correct!” or “That’s the answer!” or “you’re right!” Then repeat the answer yourself so the students hear it again. If they are really not paying attention, I ask them “What did she say?”

Check their books

Reference Check their books.  If you check their books or workbooks, you may find that they didn’t hear all the answers, or that they didn’t get them in the book. Sometimes the class is just moving too fast for some students, so a little repetition of good English or a check from the teacher helps. If they haven’t finished with good English in the book, they can’t use it to review.

Repeat 5 times

The more we say and hear something, the more it sticks. After a student gives me bad English, I give him or her the correction. “Repeat that five times,” I say and count it out on my fingers. The often look frustrated, and of course, their classmates laugh at them.

Sooner or later someone will say, in a whiney tone: “Why do we have to repeat five times?” Here’s the answer: “The last thing you hear will stay with you. We have to finish with good English. The more times you hear it, the more it stays with you. If you like, we can do it ten times.”