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Giving feedback to students in CELTA teaching practice

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

Giving feedback to students in CELTA teaching practice
It's important to vary how we give feedback to students

On a CELTA course, you'll be encouraged to get students to do most tasks by themselves, maybe working alone or in pairs or groups, and you'll be discouraged from interrupting or dominating most activities. For this reason, new teachers often see feedback as their time to shine - it's one moment when they get to be the centre of attention. However, just like everything else in a lesson, we don't want feedback to become predictable and we don't want it to get too teacher-centred.

The most common approach to feedback is usually to do it orally through the teacher: this is probably the 'standard'. The teacher calls on students and asks them the answer and confirms if they are right or wrong. When you're doing this I would recommend that you try a 'pokerface' - instead of immediately confirming if students are right or wrong, look around and see if their peers agree or not to make sure everyone is involved in the feedback stages.

Feedback can be very boring if we nominate students in a predictable left-to-right order. Students will know when it will be their turn and may only pay attention that that one answer and not to the others. You should nominate relatively randomly. Having said this, it's important not to put students on the spot unnecessarily. If you've monitored a task well, you should know which questions were harder and easier for students and which students have done well or have done badly. Use this information to help you decide who to nominate when.

Of course, the teacher doesn't need to be the person choosing the student who will call out an answer. You can have the students nominate each other. Some teachers like to introduce a game-like element here, bringing in a teddy bear or something else for students to throw around the room to nominate the next student to give an answer.

You should also bear in mind that sometimes written feedback is necessary and so it can be important to write or reveal answers on the board. If we're using a digital course book or teachers' presentation tool, there is probably an easy way to do this. Otherwise, you can write the answers on the board as the students call them out. You can also consider having students write answers on the board, but again, you want to avoid putting anyone on the spot, so maybe they could write the answers on the board in pairs, or one fast student could write answers while others finish their exercise. What you don't want is students coming up one-by-one and writing answers very slowly while everyone else stares on with nothing to do.

It can also be useful to have answers pre-prepared so you can pass them round on a handout or display them on the board or screen. Instead of calling on students to tell you the answers, yuo can simply have them compare the answers you've given them to the answers they already have and then you could discuss the ones that they found difficult or that they got the incorrect answers for.

Finally, don't forget the value of 'why'. Students might be able to give correct answers, but maybe that's because they made a lucky guess! Do they really understand why an answer to a grammar or reading question is correct? The only way to know is to ask follow-up questions!

There are lots of ways of giving feedback, and it's good to vary your style, but it's important that whatever you do try, that it's engaging, that it involves all students and that it is clear what is right or wrong and why.

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