ESL Blog: Connection Before Correction

Connection Before Correction

I started my teaching career at the age of 17. I was in-charge of teaching basic computer navigation to some students who are not that quite savvy in computers (That was back in 2004, so not everyone was very savvy back then). Most of the time, I get frustrated when some students cannot find the mouse cursor or panic when they deleted the whole pages of text.

A simple undo can fix that one. When I worked as a Level 2 tech, I also get frustrated when some of our agents cannot understand what I am saying. You can see there is a pattern here.

Lastly, when I became an English teacher for both online and face-to-face, guess what, I still get frustrated on why students cannot understand the lesson. Then I was checking some error corrections ways and found, this article. The topic is about CONNECTION BEFORE CORRECTION. 

Why do we need to connect with our students?

Simple Version: the better we connect with our students, the faster they can improve. More students is equal to more money for us especially those who do ESL Online Classes. Complicated Version: We need to connect with our students since we need to know what are the things, they are having problems with or what are the things they actually want.

For example, I know this teacher, she is not the most intellectual teacher when it comes to grammar or structure or even pronunciation however she is very good at connecting with her students. For the first 20 minutes the student is already smiling and showing her pictures on her phone and trying to tell stories. Then of course that student refers her friends to enroll to that teacher’s class. My mentor once said that if you want to succeed in teaching financially, just be a better teacher than others. You can have all the certification but if you cannot connect, it is worthless.

How do we connect with our students?

Some teachers just try to ask series of questions and it becomes more of an interview than a class. There are lot of ways to connect with the students and making a list is too much for this part of the blog. By observing the student’s outfit, you can start building rapport. For example, one of our teachers usually compliments the way his students dress up. From asking, where did he get that or why that color, he can connect to the student. Sorry, but there is no simple way on how to connect with students. It requires a skill -like a Sherlock Holmes’ deduction – but again you want to connect not to show-off your skill but to connect with them so that they will be comfortable with you.

When can we connect with our students?

I am not sure when but I know for sure DO NOT CORRECT YOUR STUDENTS ON THE FIRST MINUTE. That is a problem really, some managers or parents want the teacher to correct the students ASAP as if they can understand the correction. Usually, what we do in my previous company is that we talk to the student for the first few minutes and we do not correct the students, we will try to connect with students and while we do that, we observe the regular deviation of the students.

One of our native teachers, tend to correct the student immediately when his students mispronounce some words. Do you think students will like that? Obviously, he has a lot of changes. Another teacher, then to correct the student after a week, his logic is that , on the first day the meeting is not quite established on the 2nd to the 5th day, is the time the student is getting comfortable. But please take note, it doesn’t mean you haven’t corrected the student is that you just ignore the correction. Have a log or note that of the things the students’ needs to improve.


As a teacher and a worker, we tend to just give instruction rather than to inspire to check the other’s person need. As I grow old in this profession, I started to realize how important is to connect before correcting someone. Probably, my frustration with my students or co-workers will be lessen if I understand that I need to connect them before correcting them. I am currently walking this path; I do hope some can share their path on becoming a good teacher. Remember, connection before correction.

Author: Ian Tanpiuco
Ian Tanpiuco is an ESL and virtual assistant. With a decade of experience, he has become an expert in his field. Dedicated to helping others achieve their goals, Ian works tirelessly in the classroom or as a virtual assistant.