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Giving students feedback

July 18, 2007

Hello again,

As promised I am making some suggestions for handling feedback to...

...learners. Giving constructive feedback to a student is very important as learners need to feel that they are making progress. Giving feedback to individuals in a group needs especially careful handling because you should not embarrass a learner in front of peers or appear to favour some rather than others. In general then it is better not have a reflex action of responding with judgement after each student contribution, just thank the student concerned. Make a note of the most important errors made during the class and then round these up at the end of the lesson and deal with them without naming names.

Make sure that you have an opportunity to speak to each student individually on a regular basis to provide personal feedback. Jenny Rogers (2001 Adults Learning. Buckingham: Open University Press) says feedback should:
• be prompt, closely following the event
• contain encouragement
• be specific about why something was good or was not up to standard and what the student can do about it
• not focus on too many different aspects at the same time
• be unambiguous and clear.

Try to involve the student in self-assessment so that the learners set their own goals and can tell you how they think they are measuring up. They can then ask for advice and take some responsibility themselves.

Remember that feedback is not helpful if it is:
• vague
• criticises the person rather than the performance: “you are not good at…” should be rephrased: “this aspect needs more work”
• sets unrealistic standards.

Remember always to note what the learner has done well so as not to strike a negative note. Use errors as learning platforms rather than the basis of criticism. End the session by agreeing on concrete action points and timings. Don’t forget to check that the student has understood the feedback and the steps required to be taken.

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  1. Jason Says:

    I will be earning a Masters Degree in TESOL from Ohio Dominican Universiry in Columbus, Ohio. This will allow me to teach in Ohio from K-12. However, my real passion is to travel the world.

    I have 2 questions:

    1. From my understanding it is hard to get a working visa for Western Europe (i.e my goal is to teach TESOL in France) What is the best way to find a company that would recruit me?

    2. Another passion of mine is to learn other languages. Is becomeing an ESL teacher a good way to do this despite the fact that I will be speaking English for a large part of the day?


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