(Ellis, R. 2008. The Study of Second Language Acquisition [2nd edition]. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 963)
@Shaunwilden commented that it's not just an L2 thing - he has fossilised errors in his L1 from too much exposure to students' errors!! I think most of us could relate to that!
- Poor instruction - whilst poor teaching can not generally be blamed for fossilisation, and is clearly not the only cause, in my context in Vietnam where there is a very non-communicative approach to language learning, it was certainly a major factor. Students came to university having had 10+ years of poor teaching and had errors so fossilised that they were very difficult to correct.
- Students reach a stumbling block in their interlanguage.
- Lack of exposure to authentic English - this is a particular cause of fossilised pronunciation errors.
- When students feel they can be understood, they stop learning.
- Lack of student motivation.
- @Shaunwilden suggested that, as teachers, we instinctively know.
- @theteacherjames said that he looks for inappropriate errors for the level - confusing he and she or unvoiced word endings, for example.
- For me, it's when usual error correction is totally ineffective.
- Talk about the problem openly and honestly.
- Be strict with your students (in a nice way!) - via @theteacherjames.
- Drill your students, especially if the errors are with pronunciation.
- Display 'Our favourite errors' posters in the classroom - these should be created by the students with some teacher input if they don't recognise all their errors. @Marisa_C suggested using post-it notes which could then be removed when the error was fixed.
- Encourage peer correction.
- Record activities and play them back a couple of months later to track progress and uncover fossilised errors.
- Make a checklist of common errors and have some students monitor and keep count of how many times they are made in order to raise awareness.
- Use a writing correction code to encourage students to find their own errors.
- Have students keep a portfolio of their work which can then be used in a one-to-one tutorial.
- Wikipedia definitions via @Marisa_C