Published 25th April 2018

English for Specific Purposes

Learning a foreign language is challenging, make no mistake. Though it may seem like the challenge lies in learning tens of thousands of words or getting to grips with tricky grammar points, half the battle is actually plucking up the courage to use the language. Inevitably, language learners will make mistakes when using the language and this is a necessary part of the language learning journey.

In the classroom, it is our job as teachers to point out when our students make mistakes. This is why they come to our classrooms. But it can be difficult to make sure we don’t destroy their confidence when we are dealing with feedback and error correction.

Here are five things to bear in mind when giving your EFL students feedback:

1. Don’t always be negative

Giving feedback is not only about pointing out mistakes but also about praising natural language. Because we are so focused on correcting our students we can forget to notice when they produce good language. If you only ever point out the negative, your students will soon become fearful every time you open your mouth because they’ll be convinced they’ve made a mistake.

2. Mix it up

Don’t always give feedback in the same way. This will quickly become predictable and it may hold your students back from participating if they can foresee corrections taking place. Instead, sometimes offer immediate feedback and sometimes use delayed correction.

3. Don’t make it a big deal

Putting too much attention on an individual and their mistakes will do nothing except make that person not want to speak English ever again. Your students are going to make mistakes and if you can figure out a way to draw their attention to their mistakes without making anyone feel embarrassed, then you are winning.

4. Make it fun

Giving feedback is important – essential, even – but that doesn’t mean that it has to be boring. Use activities and games to involve your students in the feedback process, in this way making it interactive as well as making it interesting. Giving feedback in a fun way also reinforces the idea that making mistakes is ok and feedback is not something to be frightened of. This will also help the atmosphere in the classroom remain relaxed, so that your students feel comfortable participating in the lesson.

5. Include everyone

Make sure your feedback focuses on all your students and not only the loudest or most communicative ones. Make sure you are paying attention to all your students equally and that they all have equal opportunities to produce language.

Giving feedback is an important part of any EFL classroom. If it is done properly it can be a very effective tool to help your students’ on their learning journey.