Um…that’s [color=#FF0040]acquisition[/color]. The rest is only learning. Acquisition sticks. Learning doesn’t. Acquisition trumps learning. Always.
To use learned language, the student must:
- Know the rule;
- Have time to apply the rule in speech or writing;
- Pay attention to the places where the rule must be applied.
Great for tests, where these conditions can be met. Not very good for real life, where they generally are not.
To use acquired language, the student must:
- Speak or write.
The trick in a classroom situation is how to provide the maximum acquisition. In situations such as adult learners, it’s ideal, because there are no tests looming to distract from acquisition and push the emphasis onto learning.
The students need tons of input containing correct forms of the structures you want them to acquire. You can’t do this all at once. Select the one or two forms that bother you the most as a native speaker of English, and focus on them. Provide lots of input in which these structures are used. Occasionally “pop up” the structure (“Bob, what does the -s on the end of that word mean?”) to draw attention to the features you’re working – but then let it go and continue with more comprehensible input.
Do not waste time correcting the student’s output. It only makes people hesitant to speak. It won’t hasten acquisition. It might help learning – but learning has already been shown to have failed these students, or all that learning they’ve done in English previously would have resulted in correct output of the grammatical forms.