What students want

A few days ago I observed a class. The students were engaged, spoke lots of English, stayed on task and laughed when the teacher made jokes. There was just one thing missing. The thing that learners desire above all else. Feedback.

As soon as the lesson finished, I thanked the teacher for letting me observe and asked her if she’d like to chat about the class. “Absolutely,” she said, “I’d love to get some feedback.”

Teachers love Feedback too

Chatting with her later, it struck me how ironic it was that the first thing the teacher would ask for would be the last thing she’d think her students would want. It’s not just teachers who are desperate for feedback on their performance,” according to Forbes.com, Generation Y believes that “Feedback is the breakfast of champions and instead of dreading annual performance reviews,  most of those born post-1980 actually go out of their way to ask for feedback from their boss.

What about learners of English? Is feedback important for them too? More than you’d believe. Research on second language learners in Canada in the 80’s proved that without feedback on language production, even children and young adults who receive their entire education in their second language will never reach mastery. If that’s not convincing enough, research on Chinese learners living in Australia showed that they valued error correction more than anything else in the classroom. To me, this makes perfect sense. If you want input, you can go online and watch English movies. If you want vocabulary, you can go to one of hundreds of flashcard websites. If you want an English environment you can go to any expat bar in China. So why bother going to a language school? Feedback.

After her class, the teacher asked me, “What did you think of my class? What feedback do you have for me?”

What did we talk about?