HOW TO MONITOR EFFECTIVELY

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Monitoring is one of the most basic skills an EFL teacher needs to learn to master in the classroom. Monitoring effectively allows students to practise language in their own capacity while we are able to pick up their strengths and weaknesses in terms of language without their realising what we are doing.

The thing is, while monitoring can seem simple, it can be quite challenging for teachers to monitor without getting too involved and while listening for common errors or mistakes.

But first of all, why do we need to monitor?

We monitor in order to accomplish a number of things. We monitor to make sure our students are carrying out an activity correctly. If not, we can jump in and get them back on track.

We monitor to assess accuracy. During controlled practice activities when the focus is on the accurate production of language we monitor to maintain this focus on accuracy and make corrections where necessary.

We monitor to listen for errors. For those freer activities we can use monitoring to listen for errors the learners may be making which can be worth dealing with at a later stage.

Now, how do we monitor effectively?

Monitor from behind. Monitoring does not need to be seen by the students. In fact, if the students are aware of your standing near them listening to their conversation, they are more likely to feel self-conscious when they speak and this may prevent them from speaking freely. By placing yourself behind their chairs you can monitor while they engage with the language naturally.

Eavesdrop. Don’t make it obvious which student or group of students you are listening to. Practise standing near one group of students but listening to another. This way your students will learn that you are not necessarily listening to them even when you are standing close to them.

Tune in. Practise training your ear to tune in or out of a conversation. This will help you focus on one group of students and their language and ignore another group of students. Listening to everyone speak at the same time is impossible and not necessary. Instead, learn to tune in to whoever it is you want to listen to.

If you can master these few techniques, your monitoring will become much more effective and a very useful tool in the classroom. You will be able to listen out for common language errors and your students will be impressed at how much you heard – it should also prevent them from having casual conversations in your class if they think you are listening!

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