#eltchat summaries

Summary of ELT Chat 17 December 2014

How can we make in-class feedback interesting varied and useful?

Several of us gathered together for the last eltchat of 2014 to discuss the topic of making in-class feedback both varied and useful.

The topic was kicked off by defining the topic a bit more exactly and asking some pertinent questions:

  • Marisa_C: It’s all about feedback after tasks – how to vary it and make it more useful.
  • Marisa_C: then said in answer to HadaLitim: Making feedback interesting and great ideas? How do you do that?
  • Marisa_C: We are looking for alternatives to teacher asking at the end and students shouting out answers.
  • Shaunwilden: You mean there is an alternative!
  • SueAnnan: Feedback of what exactly?
  • Marisa_C: Content/ideas first or language – what do you think?

Some general ideas were then suggested:

  • HadaLitim: First to be interesting it should relate directly to the lesson objective IMHO.
  • MarjorieRosenbe: Not sure how to make feedback interesting – maybe writing out everything and letting students make necessary corrections.
  • Ashowski: Once wrote a post about feedback on work at class level as a set of sentences they had to put in order to make whole text.
  • SueAnnan: I save the stuff I hear while a task is going on, put it on the board and let students correct themselves.
  • HadaLitim: I do exactly the same and try to make sure the students discuss it rather than write it.
  • Priscilamateini: I think that feedback is very important to our students and some of them expect it.
  • SueAnnan: Just giving correct answers is a waste of everyone’s time. Get students to think about it first.
  • Marisa_C: So tasks might have a public reporting stage of decisions, or output of some kind?
  • Priscilamateini: I usually do it at the end of the class, and when it is a written activity I  point out what would be better and how.

The chat then began moving from more general ideas to specific situations:

  • HadaLitim: Shall we take it skill by skill?
  • HadaLitim:We could start with feedback for speaking
  • MarjorieRosenbe: With presentations students have to say what others did well and what they would like to try themselves.
  • HadaLitim: Does the teacher keep a record of that?
  • MarjorieRosenbe: They can. Usually I give language feedback on areas that need improvement and students on the positive aspects.
  • HadaLitim: That sounds great and most useful. It could then be posted to a class forum.
  • Hadalitim: Do you do that orally? Individually or to groups?
  • Shaunwilden: They can do their own by recording themselves.
  • SueAnnan: Could turn it into an auction too.
  • MarjorieRosenbe: I do this with mistakes from exam. They get to bet on how to best correct them.
  • SueAnnan: Just thinking demand high. If students have to determine answers it stays in the brain longer.
  • Marisa_C: Agree – teacher providing the right answers not as effective
  • Marisa_C: Teacher hands out a ‘key’ (may be only to weaker students?) They help others correct

The use of technology also came up again in a question from Marisa:

  • Marisa_C: Screencasts for feedback anyone? Recordings?
  • Ibizateacher: Recording themselves and sending sound files to me, it works, I can point out pronunciation mistakes.
  • Ibizateacher: Some would not even record their own voice! Encouragement needed but when they finally do they love it!

A variety of different techniques were also discussed.

  • Marisa_C: In a TBL framework the Ss would get FB by reading how it should be done- they could then evaluate self or peers.
  • Marisa_C: I read an interesting article by Alex Case today in ETP in which he assigns student monitors with checklists – have done this too- it works!
  • Marisa_C: Have used it mainly for language but no reason why not other criteria in checklists e,g, length of turn, coherence, etc

We then moved to a discussion of collaborative feedback:

  • Ibizateacher: I was told not to correct students when they speak ESL, they’d eventually learn from input. But feedback is necessary to speed it up.
  • MarjorieRosenbe: Sounds like cooperative learning where sts do peer correction.
  • Marisa_C: A hugely popular activity with my classes – chain story writing – every two minutes texts change hands – read, check/correct /continue
  • MarjorieRosenbe: When I give back corrected exams I tell them to compare with other students and find someone who can explain correct answer.
  • Marisa_C: good idea – also allow them to assign marks might help using marker’s criteria
  • HadaLitim: I like to allow students to collaborate in groups with writing taking turns each reads and group gives feedback. At the end I collect them.
  • Marisa_C: Some students are given prompts, others evaluation checklists – act as group monitors
  • SueAnnan: Collaborating creates an info gap. Students can all have areas of strength which they share.
  • HadaLitim: I also give feedback in the form of a running activity. Write the incorrect utterances on strips of card. 4 groups. 1 runner comes and gets a strip. The group corrects. If and when correct, they get the second strip. This works well at the end of unit 2/2

Kate Lloyd joined in and commented on writing:

  • KateLloyd05: Feedback on writing is easier to make interesting that speaking IMO
  • HadaLitim: Writing – stick texts on wall and students go round and peer correct, or pass round and do same.
  • Marisa-C: I like that gallery effect – maybe give them stickers?
  • HadaLitim: Group writing exchange with other groups and write feedback for each other. Then rewrite before I check.
  • KateLloyd05: Coloured pens are good. All students correct texts and discuss corrections
  • KateLloyd05: group writing exchange with other groups and write feedback for each other. Then rewrite before I check.
  • HadaLitim: Sounds effective and very student centered

We then talked about some of the difficulties we face:

  • Priscilamateini: There are some students that don’t take the feedback as an opportunity to learn
  • HadaLitim: That always happens. How can we turn them around?
  • Marisa_C: that’s the moment that I try to explain how FB  important for them, but teens find it difficult to accept it.
  • Ibizateacher: I don’t have a magic formula, just explain that mistakes are good because they can learn from them and we all make them.
  • HadaLitim: I totally agree and that the feedback is focussed so it’s comprehensible
  • Marisa_C: It depends where you are. When they come to the BC, they adapt to something they know too be different. They end up loving it.
  • HadaLitim: So true! Especially when they’re introduced to something so totally different.

The question of which feedback is important came up:

  • KateLloyd05: Think it’s important that feedback isn’t only on grammar, word form etc. but also on pronunciation and appropriacy.
  • Marisa_C: Might be a good idea to do an Error Gravity activity once in a while – which language or other errors serious, which not a problem
  • HadaLitim: Gravity activity .. That sounds interesting. Please do explain
  • Marisa_C: How serious each one is – say on a scale of 0-5.
  • SueAnnam: It depends on the task too. Not everything needs correcting.
  • MsKuiper: Determine the most commonly made errors, then correct some with students on whiteboard at end of lesson. Then use that as a warm up next lesson.
  • KateLloyd05: Interesting idea. So things like that missing articles are not a massive deal?
  • Marisa_C: Probably not – but depends on level and other issues as well. As you said earlier not just grammar
  • Priscilamateini: Sure and we can use real situations, as Twitter, or email (writing) or an interview or TV show (listening)
  • Ibizateacher: Yes, that and telling them about some of my own mistakes when first learning the language, make them laugh a bit ;-
  • MsKuiper If class is small, write memos of errors made by each student and give them out individually at end of lesson.

There were various ideas to give students control of the feedback in different types of tasks:

  • HadaLitim: In Listening class today and played the same recording three times so I had to vary both the type of feedback and the groups to keep students focused.
  • HadaLitim: After each listening I rotated the students and reformed the groups. That I think made it more interesting.
  • SueAnnam: I give the control of the CD player to students. They then decide how often it needs playing.
  • HadaLitim: Excellent idea. I give them control of the board pen. They decide who goes up to the board.
  • MsKuiper If class is small, write memos of errors made by each student and give them out individually at end of lesson.

Some thoughts on giving individual feedback:

  • Marisa_C: I sometimes use a different post-it for each student – can do lots with post-its – can mix them up, etc
  • HadaLitim: If class is small, write memos of errors made by each student and give them out individually at end of lesson.
  • Marisa_C: I personally like tasks that have some sort of built in element of peer feedback and evaluation at end – either thru self-checks or other.
  • Ibizateacher: I make corrections general and not singling out one student. Then repetition of correct patterns, and reinforcement but not when they speak! I usually take notes and let them know privately. At this #eltchat I am discovering new ways!

And then there was the idea of feedback as a game:

  • Marisa_C: I recently read something but can’t remember where or who wrote it about error auctions Anyone recall this? Students place bets on whether something is right or wrong
  • KateLloyd05: You give them sentences, some containing errors and some not – they buy only correct ones, alternative they bet if it’s right or wrong.
  • MsKuiper : Students post an exit ticket on wall poster of classroom to leave the lesson, saying what feedback impacted them most.

And some important information at the end:

  • Marisa_C: Next #ELTchat in the New Year on the 14th of January and it will be at 12 p.m. GMT – thanks everyone for giving us a great buzz in this last one!


Links and ideas

HadaLitim: I saw this earlier and thought it made sense http://t.co/aAy4cNCeTp http://t.co/7amNnH2tzf

Ashowski: Found the link about the post I was talking about #ELTChat via @Shaunwilden https://t.co/ELh06dX94d

Marisa_C: A video with one or twoalternatives – e.g. Students peer check and correct work in running dictation and more http://t.co/kpB8VWcXb6

Shaunwilden: like what Russell does? http://t.co/M2ZiN0XDqn

RedNovaMexico : Three Ways to Engage Visual Learners – http://t.co/v838rPwRHn



Summary of the eltchat on December 10, 2014


The question discussed was:

‘What, deep down, motivates our learners? How can teachers connect with what truly matters to them?’


This lively chat got off to a roaring start as elt chatters commented on what motivation is and the different types that show up in the classroom. These continued throughout the chat although other topics came up in the meantime. These were that were at the beginning of the chat.

  • MarjorieRosenbe: My students vary – some self-motivated, others need encouragement.
  • ELTwriter: short vs long term goals/motivational strategies teacher can utilize.
  • MarjorieRosenbe: in business English motivation is often practical and work-related.
  • MarjorieRosenbe: At university motivation often related to what is necessary for academic career.
  • patrickelt: Yes.  Need to use English in most effective ways for real life purposes.
  • patrickelt: Can be higher, for example, if about to go to conference.


These came towards the middle of the chat after discussions on other related topics.

  • MarjorieRosenbe: Again, it depends why they are there. Some just come for fun, others to learn.
  • HadaLitim: This sounds great on longer courses. Our courses are only 6 weeks – could that work? If yes, how?
  • angelos_bollas: Does it not? Those coming for fun could demotivate the rest of the group, couldn’t they?
  • MarjorieRosenbe: Not necessarily. Had a student who made no progress but loved being in class. Was never a problem.
  • angelos_bollas: then the question is: how can we motivate this learner to make progress?
  • MarjorieRosenbe: This was General English Adult ed, some just want to be in a social environment, get away from other problems, etc.
  • MarjorieRosenbe: But I guess coming for fun is also motivation. Have we said what they should be motivated to do?
  • MarjorieRosenbe: Devil’s Advocate Q – does motivation always mean wanting to improve the language?
  • MarjorieRosenbe: Could we say motivation is necessary if they want to learn to communicate better?


The discussion on motivation in general led to these specific questions:

How can we help students become more motivated?

  • Marisa_C: So Teachers CAN effect motivation through engaging content and tasks?
  • kaurgibbons: Last week’s #ELTchat was all about different teaching styles and what works best – very much connected to today’s topic.
  • MarjorieRosenbe: Also think that allowing room for personalisation and experimentation very motivating.


  • patrickelt: Yes, and if students can see we value languages, this can be very useful.
  • MarjorieRosenbe: Yes, give them the space to experiment without being judged.
  • Philip_Saxon: Agreed! Risk taking enables growth. Testing is something else.
  • angelos_bollas: Yes. When students get that we follow a schedule instead of them, they lose interest.
  • MarjorieRosenbe: The reason I stopped handing out a syllabus stating what would happen each week.
  • HadaLitim: We’ve recently been made to distribute one but I usually renegotiate it with my students.
  • Philip_Saxon: Interesting. I set milestones but in-between flexibility is maybe advisable.
  • angelos_bollas: I think that knowing what is going to happen is helpful. Especially if they have a say in it.
  • Marisa_C: Could a negotiable syllabus with ongoing feedback work best for some groups?
  • Marisa_C: It works for us – we have core can-dos, optional ones and Ss’ preferences. All three make up the syllabus.
  • HadaLitim: I agree. When they helped negotiate the syllabus and we refer back to it, it keeps them focused.
  • Philip_Saxon: Interesting suggestion. I like it when students choose topics but I set criteria for presentations, for example.
  • Philip_Saxon: Yes, I ask students to demonstrate certain techniques using a range of options from TL provided.
  • Marisa_C Topics and TL?
  • HadaLatim: Was just curious to find out if students could actually choose their own TL. Wise to let them choose from a range.
  • MartinaEmke: Online tools could be helpful too.
  • Marisa_C: Voxopop for recording a speaking homework or holding an after-class online discussion.
  • Philip_Saxon: MyBrainshark very good – students created own presentations with it. Motivating? Lots of feedback and students learnt IT skills, too.
  • MarjorieRosenbe: Also need to recognise needs of individual learners and respect them.
  • MarjorieRosenbe: I give them reward stickers, praise them, show I like them. Very motivating.
  • HadaLitim: I’m not surprised. In language schools, they definitely don’t want us to be like their school teachers.
  • MarjorieRosenbe: I think we need to stay flexible – leaving the lesson plan to meet needs is vital.
  • MarjorieRosenbe: Also think that rapport with students is a motivating factor. When they feel understood they work harder.
  • angelos_bollas: And when they understand that T cares about them and their progress.


What problems come up and what solutions can we offer?

  • ALiCe__M: Well I must admit not all students seem very pleased to read my very carefully chosen poems.
  • Marisa_C: Perhaps how you exploit them could increase Task motivation? e.g. word cloud – make the poem, then read original?
  • Marisa_C: and maybe ask them to choose poems they like for u to use for teaching?
  • ALiCe__M: problem is lack of vocab/syntax and painstaking explanations. And I don’t want to be at the centre. So let them approach poem.


What about motivation from the student’s point of view?

  • angelos_bollas: Being in a class with very strong students motivates me as a student
  • MarjorieRosenbe: And some students are then more intimidated and just give up unfortunately. But community of learning important.
  • angelos_bollas: I try to make successful completion of the course become a personal challenge for them. Not good with all students though.
  • angelos_bollas: meant make it a competition. Though, making SS responsible for own learning could work great with teens.
  • angelos_bollas: There are students for whom competition is demotivating, indeed.
  • patrickelt: As a learner, competition is irrelevant to me.
  • HadaLitim: One-to-one counselling also works a treat in re-lighting a student’s fading motivation.


Does anyone discuss motivation at the beginning of a course or class?

  • angelos_bollas: How do we know what really motivates them before the beginning of a course? Is asking them enough?
  • patrickelt: Think you are right to be sceptical – need to keep observing – motives might be vague/unclear.
  • Marisa_C: Are we talking about all ages and goals? Might help if we start with YLs or adults as motivations differ.
  • Marisa_C: I also do a lesson on good learner traits early on and then talk about how to go about being one.
  • HadaLitim: They also want us to make their objectives achievable. appropriate pitching of work is essential to keep motivation going.
  • patrickelt: And difficult to foresee future needs – sometimes students do not have language awareness.
  • Marisa_C: Looks as if we’re all saying that acquainting students with research (esp for adults) could be powerful tool; lessons can be done on this.
  • MarjorieRosenbe: May depend on adults – haven’t come across this in corporate training. Practical info is what they want.
  • Marisa_C: of course! i don’t mean READing the research but using simplified versions of how to be successful.
  • HadaLatin: Flip classes. SS can do their research at home and report back to class.
  • MarjorieRosenbe: I give hints on strategies based on what I know about their learning preferences.


Is motivation different depending on the age group or type of class?

  • Shaunwilden: Yes I think the different ages have different goals and therefore motivations.
  • Marisa_C: YLs motivated by encouraging, playful and affectionate teachers.
  • angelos_bollas: So, ESP, EAP, exam classes, etc. easier to motivate them, there is an obvious goal. What about General English classes?
  • patrickelt: But easier to motivate students on pre-sessional than in-sessional courses – perhaps because they have fewer distractions.
  • patrickelt: …in-sessional students often concerned with getting through subject courses as best they can.
  • Marisa_C: if we can do it on 4-week Celta’s with heavy content why not design language lessons on this?


What about rapport?

  • MarjorieRosenbe: Establishing rapport means showing you like and accept them for who they are.
  • MarjorieRosenbe: Also understanding others’ point of view even if you disagree.
  • angelos_bollas: Being approachable and act as a role model for them + caring about and respecting them.
  • Marisa_C: I guess we can promote good rapport by being open and inclusive.


Several people gave links or other sources.

Marisa_C: Do read summary of a previous #ELTchat on motivation after an #Iatefl conf http://t.co/1oMqnExFKP

MarjorieRosenbe: I relate what we are learning to their lives and experiences. See my blog post  http://t.co/kkntOZvsuN

Marisa_C: I use this questionnaire on good learner traits based on the research done on topic http://t.co/Z1Z0hcFqCv

MarjorieRosenbe: Classroom Dynamics by Jill Hadfield also had questionnaire on what makes good learner.

HadaLatim: Rapport and Group cohesion – see a previous chat on this http://t.co/0purpFbMjZ

MsKuiper: I use this questionnaire on good learner traits based on the research done on topic http://t.co/Z1Z0hcFqCv



One thought on “#eltchat summaries

  1. Pingback: » What, deep down, motivates our learners? How can teachers connect with what truly matters to them? #ELTchat Summary 10/12/2014

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