Understanding tutor feedback for French

A marked French essay with tutor feedback

A marked French essay

The expression 'to learn from one's mistakes' is highly applicable to the language learning process. This idea is made more explicit in the French idiom 'tirer un enseignement de ses erreurs' insofar as mistakes can indeed provide a very valuable (self-)teaching opportunity. Although receiving work back from your tutor covered in coloured ink can be disheartening, the ability to act constructively upon the feedback suggestions is key to making progress in the language.

In order to learn from your language mistakes, it is important to first establish the type of error which you have made (e.g. past participle agreement, conjugation, word order etc) so that you can then correct it by focusing on the relevant grammatical rule or usage convention.

In these activities, you will identify the codes of the correction system that your language tutor uses to classify the errors in your written French work. You will then apply these codes by annotating a sample of written French language.

Activity 1: Deciphering error codes

The error codes that your tutor uses to give feedback on your work are intended as an explicit and personalised learning opportunity. By identifying the types of mistakes you have made - as opposed to systematically correcting them all for you - your tutor is prompting you to engage directly with those specific aspects of your language which are in need of development or review. In this activity you are going to identify the meaning of the annotations used by your French language tutor.


Read the abbreviated French error codes below and drag their English meanings into the correct places in the appropriate columns. One has been done for you as an example. Then read the feedback.












false friends
gender agreement
number agreement
past participle









λ ou µ


invert words
not very French
wrong expression
wrong word

Here is a full list of error codes used in French Language Stage feedback:
French correction codes (pdf, 54KB). You may wish to print this document.

Activity 2: Identifying errors

The sample of French written work below contains a number of language and usage mistakes which are typical of a Stage 3 level learner. In this activity, you are going to identify these errors.


Identify the 20 mistakes in this piece of work by highlighting the incorrect word(s) in each case and selecting 'Bold'. Highlight text and select 'Normal' if you wish to change your choice. When you have finished highlighting the text, open the feedback to see the errors.

Activity 3: Applying error codes

As a student, you may not often be required or encouraged to annotate your own written work. However, the skill of revising your work for errors before you produce a final version is a useful but under-exploited drafting technique. This process can help you to identify and correct language errors while refining your ideas and structure. In this activity, you are going to focus on the language mistakes presented in the previous sample of written work.


Each error is marked in bold type and is followed by a box. Type the code which most closely describes the kind of error made into the box in each case. Then read the feedback.

L'issuedes immigrés en France n'est pas nouvelle. L'image des banlieues en marge de la société a existéavant la Révolution française. Enles années 1850s, Alexandre Privat-d'Anglemont a décrivitle ghetto parisien de la Villa des Chiffonniers comme «une colonie de sauvages exotique». Aujourd'hui, il y a une évidente distinctionentre le centre de Paris et ses environs qu'est sans parallèle dans desautres citéseuropéennes. Le périphérique indique où étaient les remparts et les limites de municipalité. Une barrière psychologique était crééOption 13entre les gens qui vivent de chaque côté de ce mur symbolique. Les françaisà cette époque disaitque les immigrés avaient 'intrus'et prenaient leurs emplois, mais ça, ce n'est pas le cas.

Depuis les années soixante, les immigrations africaines n'ont pas arrêtéàaugmenter; les originaires des pays d'Afrique réprésentaient39.3%de la population de la France en 1999.

If you would like to read an explanation for these mistakes, open the document below:
Explanation of mistakes in sample (pdf, 13KB). You may wish to print this document.


Peabody, S. and Stovall, T. (2003). The Colour of Liberty: Histories of Race in France. Durham: Duke University Press.

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