Monitoring, Feedback and Debriefing: When and how to do it in class

The #ELT chat topic on Wednesday, 15th February was on Monitoring, Feedback and Debriefing: when and how to do it. These issues in teaching are of equal importance just as practising any other skill in class. As this could be a sensitive issue, the teacher has to be really careful how she approaches the students and has to consider also the type of error she/he wants to deal with.

 When should we monitor?

The following tweets obviously reveal that it doesn’t constitute a separate stage in a lesson but it is there all the time!

  • I do it when they work in pairs and they don’t notice it
  • I monitor students all the time without thinking about it consciously, it just happens subconsciously and spontaneously
  • In 1 to 1, I have to make sure there are times I’m not monitoring them.

Should we always include a feedback slot?

What happens if the teacher, intentionally, doesn’t wish to give feedback?

Many teachers admit that the students think their teacher is a bad one if she/he doesn’t correct them. Learner training is the key. The teacher should let students know when and how they should expect their feedback from her/him.


  • it depends on the task, too much feedback impedes the flow of the lesson, better at the end and students need to know that
  • if students make the same error, you should make them aware of it.

What can feedback focus on?

Feedback can be done overtly and covertly and here are some of the areas it can focus on:

  • grammar
  • content
  • vocabulary/collocation input and reformulation to sound more natural.
  • good things/ideas the teacher has heard.

When should we give feedback?

  • I try not to correct students or friends outside class
  • save feedback for subsequent lessons; sometimes it devalues the activity to have feedback after a good discussion.

How to give feedback?

  • by drilling
  • by recycling games
  • by focusing on one major area to highlight and experiment with in next lesson
  • if communication is impeded, one of the teachers said she writes a note and slips it to the students who has the problem to help him correct it
  • if it’s a role play, the teacher can take the role of the secretary and record rather than correct and feed it back.

Feedback by means of recording

  • record the fluency activity and use this for feedback
  • the teacher records his/her feedback on his students’ written work and students listen to their teacher talking about their work.
  • send feedback through Jing

Using delayed correction, usually at the end of the activity or lesson

  • this could be effective because students write down mistakes and correct versions so they practise them


  • the next day they may make the same mistakes again.

So the question is raised: If the need arises isn’t it better to deal with that whilst it’s still relevant at the moment?

Using the board

Write up correct sentences on the board, interesting information they should know

Giving feedback for fluency speaking activities

‘The hardest thing is what kind of feedback to give’ a teacher admits. Another teacher says ‘when focusing on fluency in speaking, students tell me I don’t correct enough’. Don’t these questions bother us all the time?

Feedback in this case can be provided:

  •  at the end of the activity


  • sometimes it can disrupt the flow of the lesson, if speaking leads to something else.

Giving feedback for accuracy-focused tasks

  • grammar auctions is a good starting point, they’re fun, placing bets whether a sentence is correct or not but more work may needed on certain areas
  • create one or two correct questions to prompt students to use the corrected version
  • create a mixture of wrong and right sentences to elicit some of the mistakes. This involves all students and it’s a way for the teacher to check how well they’ve understood things.

Self-correction & Peer Correction

  • get students to self-correct
  • get students to write down the correct versions in their notebook
  • (s)elect a teacher from among the students who monitors certain activities. But this depends on the rapport they have since they can be sometimes mean
  • peer correction works well for exam preparation classes, they listen to each other speaking, then they give feedback on accuracy, fluency and organization of ideas. In this way, students get the role of an examiner
  • the teacher should give clear guidelines because students tend to spot errors but find it hard to see what’s good in their peers.

Isn’t also body language a way to give feedback?

Among other things, a teacher can:

  • react
  • smile
  • nod
  • look questioning

Debriefing: definition

‘Informing people about their experience or allowing them to talk about it’ according to. Wikipedia. It can be also very useful for needs analysis, syllabus evaluation and lesson planning.

  • ask students at the end of the lesson, what they liked or not. It’s good to know where the teacher stands, student’s feedback is very important
  • important to take into account learner’s opinions, since it enhances learning
  • invite them to give comments after class. Put up a question on Linoit to trigger discussion
  • post-its make for fun feedback, note good language/errors (1 per Post-it) and get students up and moving round room at end of class to find and fix errors
  • rather than post-its, we were shown an idea of using Hawaiian skirts and students in groups race and correct the strips they tear off
  • I give a list of sentence starters for them to finish (This week I enjoyed.., I found xxx really hard, I’d like to work on …)
  • get students to write on noticeboard like Linoit, then comment on things they like, nice expressions, ideas etc. Then discuss in class
  • give feedback on the Friday to see if Monday needs have been achieved.

Some useful links:

As you have noticed, I haven’t mentioned any names as everyone contributed to the discussion equally!


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About the Author

Toula Sklavou has been a teacher of English since 2002. She studied basic methodology at CELT Athens where she also recently also completed her Cambridge DELTA Diploma, but she has also studied translation and holds an MA in Translation from the University of Surrey, UK.  She has worked mainly in Greece but more recently has also been teaching summer school in the UK.

She is @toulasklavou on Twitter

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