Published 25th May 2018

teaching writing feedback for students

Teaching writing and giving writing feedback can be frustrating. Writing is a tricky skill to teach. Many EFL students don’t enjoy writing or may not feel like it can be taught. Others may think it’s a waste of time in the classroom. At the same time, feedback can be difficult to accept on the best of days, so writing feedback is often not appreciated. What all this means is that we can give writing feedback but our students can ignore it. It may even seem like our students make the same mistakes again and again.

Writing is a necessary skill, however. We cannot ignore it and hope our students will never need to be able to do it. Instead, we need to come up with ways to make giving writing feedback easier for teachers and more understandable for students. Hopefully, they will then take the feedback on board and learn from it.

Strategies to help the teacher when giving writing feedback

  • Utilise different feedback techniques for different writing tasks. How you give feedback on one piece of writing should be different to how you give feedback on another. Make your students aware of your feedback criteria. In other words, for this writing I will be looking at your coherence and cohesion/spelling/discourse markers/use of tenses.If you can, provide a checklist for your students to use when reviewing their writing. This will enable them to make sure they have incorporated what is needed for that exercise.
  • Don’t correct everything. A paper covered in ink is not a motivating sight. Plus, only correcting what you set out to correct will save you time.
  • Don’t forget about the positive feedback. It’s easy to only focus on the negative but be sure to include positive remarks in your feedback.

Strategies to help the student when giving writing feedback

  • Choose topics the students are interested in. Better yet, give them a choice of topics and let them decide what they want to write on. Being able to choose what to write on will make writing more enjoyable for your students. If it is more enjoyable they will be more invested in the process and pay more attention to their feedback.
  • Give you students the opportunity to finish their writing in their own time. Writing in class adds unnecessary pressure on your students. Allowing them to complete their writing work after class will give them the time and space they need to focus.
  • Make use of peer feedback. It can be good for students to assess other students’ writing to develop a critical eye.

Writing is an essential skill when learning a foreign language. Giving feedback on writing is necessary in order for our students to improve their writing. Using these tips will help you find it easier to cope with giving writing feedback. They will also help your students appreciate your feedback more and so make it more effective.