Tell me know how I’m doing – the importance of feedback in the EFL classroom.

Students taking a course in a foreign language very frequently bring with them a world of expectations and needs – in both personal and professional contexts – that they want to be met in the classroom. Those expectations and needs, however, can many times be beyond what can be achieved within a semester of studies. It is then many times up to the teacher to help learners align their expectations and help them become more aware of what they can achieve in the short and long run, and how they might be able to speed up the process as well. One of the best ways a teacher can help learners in this sense is by providing them with consistent feedback on their performance in class, by pointing out the areas in which they are developing faster and the ones they need to work more on, and should then dedicate more study time to in order to achieve their objectives. Devising an action plan to guide these learners also seems like a good way to help them reach their goals and become more realistic in relation to their expectations.

In class, feedback should be constantly given on both oral and written performance; by doing so, learners stand a better chance of becoming more aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and will certainly be given the opportunity to develop language awareness, broadening their linguistic repertoire and becoming more familiar with the wide range of varieties of English in today’s world. It is also important to remember feedback should highlight positive aspects of learners’ production, and not focus solely on language mistakes. Moreover, a holistic approach to feedback – covering lexis, grammar, phonology and discourse, not to mention cultural aspects whenever possible – will also help your learners become more competent communicators in English.

An action plan to be followed outside the classroom is of paramount importance as well, especially with the valuable guidance of the teacher. Suggesting resources and materials that match your learners’ profiles and that are appropriate for their learning needs can enhance their learning experience and help them to be on the fast track to developing and achieving fluency faster than if they were only doing classroom-related activities. Encouraging learners to share their progress with you should motivate them to keep on dedicating their time to their studies. Also, make sure they are always provided with the right amount of challenge so that they are not discouraged to do the activities because they are either too easy or too difficult.

Catarina Pontes

Catarina Pontes is a senior consultant for Troika. She is an ICELT main course tutor, and Cambridge Assessment English Team Leader . A DELTA holder, and currently doing her MA with NILE, she is also a conference speaker and has published articles on ELT and EFL. She is the co-author of "Getting into Teacher Education - a Handbook", and is currently the coordinator of IATEFL's Pron SIG.

1 Comment
  • Ricardo França
    Posted at 14:43h, 26 março Responder

    As usual, excellent input! Thank you, Catarina!

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