One of the most important aspects of language teaching and learning (and of any kind of teaching, we’d argue) is feedback. It helps students make tangible progress and facilitates differentiation. Although it is commonly practiced, it is also often feared and misused.After discussion with some educators, we have put together a few tips to help you get the most out of your (summative and formative) assessment tasks:
1. Feedback must be timely: bearing in mind that the main purpose of assessment is to help students develop their language proficiency and not reporting, we must remember that the sooner we provide students with clear and specific advice, the better they will understand and assimilate feedback. As IB Educator Kim Edwards puts it, “in feedback, timely is transparent.“
2. Choose what to address: overwhelming students with notes and advice will not help them improve. Let’s appeal to Vygotsky’s “zone of proximal development,” and target a couple of aspects that students need to master before moving up to the next level.
3. Make students accountable by having them set targets and define specific actions they will take to improve. The key is to be specific and not too ambitious. For instance, a student who was struggling with reading came up with the following target: – “From Monday to Friday I will read one article a day on www.newsela.com.”