Error Charting During Novel Times

David A. Isaacs, UNT x KGU Super IES Joint Program

Quick Guide

  • Keywords: Error Chart, corrective feedback, self-correction
  • Learner English level: Intermediate to advanced
  • Learner maturity: Higher education
  • Preparation time: 10-30 minutes
  • Activity time: 10-30 minutes
  • Materials: Handout of Error Map (see Appendix)

Error Charting is a system used to document recurrent issues in academic writing using a chart that lists and documents common grammar errors. Learners can discover their individual accuracy errors during a term-long process of tracking errors. It is a convenient tool to support teacher feedback on written assignments whether classes are taught synchronously or asynchronously, in person or online.



Step 1: Teach writing error types and any error identification coding system to the class before introducing activity. Students must understand how the instructor marks errors on written assignments and what such marks mean.

Step 2: Prepare the Error Chart. This is a checklist-style grid with columns for each planned written assignment, and rows for each of the accuracy categories, such as subject-verb agreement, verb tense, and so on. An Error Chart example can be found in the appendix, but teachers might want to adapt or create their own, according to their needs.

Step 3: Create an example essay where the instructor highlights 2-3 easily identifiable errors, such as a spelling error, subject-verb agreement issue, and incorrect verb tense.

Step 4: Mark the first completed written assignment identifying errors using a highlight or coding system, or other method.



Step 1: Hand out a practice Error Chart (this can be done in class, or virtually, depending on your situation).

Step 2: Pair up students. Distribute highlighted example. Ask students to work with their partner to identify the three error types.

Step 3: Get a volunteer to read the first highlighted error.

Step 4: Elicit the error type (e.g., spelling error).

Step 5: Ask students to look at the practice Error Chart.

Step 6: Explain that horizontal columns are for writing assignments and vertical columns are for grammar errors.

Step 7: Ask the class to match the highlighted error from the example essay, spelling mistake, with its corresponding match on the practice Error Chart.

Step 8: Direct the class to place one tick mark in that square.

Step 9: Repeat steps 7-8 for the remaining two highlighted errors.

Step 10: Check for understanding.

Step 11 Distribute a clean copy of another Error Chart. Explain that it is useful for students to keep track of recurrent errors, and their own Error Chart should be looked over throughout the semester.

Step 12: Return the first marked written assignment giving students time to review the highlighted or notated feedback.

Step 13: Direct students to work alone and make a record of their errors using the Error Chart.

Step 14: Place students in groups or pairs to check if errors are correctly identified.

Step 15: Monitor students to help with any questions.

Step 16: Direct the class to finish the process at home, if necessary.

Step 17: Repeat this activity for each written assignment throughout the school term in order to improve students’ accuracy in grammar as well as to assist with any redrafting.


Using Error Charts is a quick and systematic method of encouraging students to engage with teacher feedback. It provides an individualized reference for self-correction and writing development. It helps teachers to respond to the most common and recurrent errors, which enables the instructor to tailor grammar instruction that focuses on individual or class needs.


Error Chart

This appendix is also available below: