How to teach students to stop saying ‘could to be’.

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  • terryferry
    4 March, 2011 at 16:27
    • Total posts: 1


    I’m kind of new to TEFL (just got my CELTA) and I recently had an interview in which I was asked how I would stop students from saying ‘could to be’ instead of ‘could be’ in their spoken English. I didn’t know the answer to this and I still don’t. Any suggestions would be gratefully received.


    6 April, 2013 at 19:38
    • Total posts: 2

    Reply To: How to teach students to stop saying ‘could to be’.

    Get a cattle prod..

    8 April, 2013 at 9:01
    • Total posts: 59

    Reply To: How to teach students to stop saying ‘could to be’.

    Yes, well, leaving aside mikek’s not particularly helpful suggestion, the first thing to do might be to try and analyse where the mistake is coming from.

    Is it a genuine mistake, for example resulting from overgeneralisation (students applying rules from other verbs to modal verbs as well) or is it just a slip (they know that modal verbs are follwoed by the bare infinitive but don’t always apply that knowledge).

    If it’s overgeneralisation, then you’ll first need to teach them the rule with "could" – so a modal verbs lesson would be in order (but be specific – choose "modals for ability" or "modals of deduction" or whatever is appopriate in terms of your students and their level). After that, they’ll "know" the rule and it’s a question of ensuring they have plenty of practice to apply it.

    They might then make a slip, where they fail to apply the rule (or as I said this may be the problem in the first place), in which case you need to employ an appropriate error correction technique. With this one, you could, for example, repeat the student’s error with a rising intonation as if enquiring if that is correct: "could to be…?" and having the student self-correct. There are various error correction techniques and options, but that’s the one I would use in this case.

    8 April, 2013 at 9:58
    • Total posts: 158

    Reply To: How to teach students to stop saying ‘could to be’.

    This could well be a case of [url=]MT influence[/url] in which case it can be difficult to correct as the error is so ingrained in the students (ie, it’s [url=]fossilized[/url]).

    * explicitly explain the students what the error is and how it needs correcting
    * if students continue to make the error get them to write it down (this focuses in on what they have done wrong)

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