Have you ever wondered how well you are doing your job?
This is a question we all have to ask ourselves. Though feedback from our students is very useful, we shouldn't always rely on them to provide this information since it is something we are quite capable of checking on our own. How well you are covering your students' expectations and language needs is of utmost importance and not something you should take lightly. So what questions can you ask yourself to ensure you are meeting your ESL objectives? Take a look.
Check Your Own Teaching Quality Objectively
Having clear attainable goals is important for any task one must accomplish. In the ESL classroom it is certainly no different. Setting goals allows us to know and plan where we are headed. They allow us to know what we have to accomplish in each lesson and in each level. When goals are not clear, we run the risk of spending time on unnecessary things. Also, I encourage you to share the goals for each lesson with the students. By doing this at the beginning of the class, your students will understand what will be covered during the lesson, and they will know what to expect. Their language learning goals and interests are central to the development of the program. You should involve your students in setting the goals of their program. So ask yourself:
- Were the goals clearly set at the beginning of the lesson?
- Were these goals appropriate?
- Were they accomplished?
As we all know, the more students participate, the better they learn and retain what they are learning. Some theories suggest we all learn by doing, so if that is the case, by using the language students will be better prepared to communicate. What happens often is that some students participate more than others. Pay close attention to this, it is a lot more common than you think and sometimes we don't even notice. Make sure to call out your students' names and also, assign tasks clearly, so that it isn't always the same students asking and the same answering. Take a look at these questions.
- Did everyone participate equally?
- Was there sufficient student performance?
Student motivation is key for their progress. If the language and activities are personally relevant, students will be more motivated to comprehend and use the language and the learning effect will be much greater. Students want what they learn to be immediately applicable to their lives. They want to know why something needs to be learned. Understanding and responding to students’ goals is one of the most important ways of motivating our students. Also, success in itself is one of the greatest motivators. Giving students a sense of their achievements and progress, is incredibly important. We also need to be sensitive to stages where they feel they are not learning, and give extra encouragement. Another motivator is our general attitude towards them. Remember that our enthusiasm and liveliness is infectious and a good way to keep the ball in the air is by using varied activities that the students enjoy.
- Were students motivated in the lesson?
- Did you encourage your students to achieve without pressure?
- Did you provide varied activities that the students enjoyed?
- Did you provide a relaxed learning environment?
So, where does the content you teach come from? In most cases it is mainly provided by the course materials you chose for your students. Since these books are created with a specific target in mind, they aim to make the students’ exposure and use of the target language as rich, varied, and meaningful as possible. They provide a variety of language students will need and use outside the classroom. It is important to keep all this in mind when choosing course material for your students since understanding how the content of the course works, will help you pin point the key goals of each lesson. Also, in cases where it is necessary, you will be able to adapt the lessons to suit the particular needs of your students.
- Was the material age/level appropriate?
- Was it relevant?
- Is there enough and adequate material for self study?
Feedback and Corrections
Providing feedback for students is essential. They need to hear what they are doing well and what needs work. However, we always need to consider the way we correct students since it plays a vital role in helping students become confident in their learning or become insecure. Offering constructive feedback and corrections at the end of the activities, and also encouraging self correction allows students to understand it is all just a natural part of the learning process. Involve students in evaluating their progress throughout their course as much as possible and remember to focus and give feedback on students’ success as well.
- Were corrections clear?
- Was consistent feedback given to students?
- Will there be follow up on corrections?
Our students deserve nothing but the best.
It is crucial for goals to be clear, since they have a direct effect on student motivation. Also, student participation, your choice of course material and how well you provide feedback are of great importance where student progress is concerned. Keep in mind that many life goals like future employment and other important personal goals might depend on how well you do your job. I'm sure you are well aware of what your students' goals are, now make sure you are aware of what you need to do to help them achieve those goals.