The role of feedback in communicative classrooms

Autor: prof. Miulescu Florina Oana
Colegiul de silvicultură și protecția mediului, Rm. Vâlcea

Perhaps the subject can best be adressed by looking at it from the learners’ point of view . They have taken part in an animated discussion on a relevant topic and have drawn on all their ressources in English to do so. The teacher has set up the communicative activity and allowed it to flow, giving the learners the maximum opportunity to participate and use their language skills to the full.
The lesson ends without a feedback stage and the students leave the classroom. At this point, they might reflect on what they have done. They have certainly practised speaking and, no doubt, they have practised listening . What, on the other hand, have they learnt?

They may be left with the feeling that, although they have practised using their English, they have made a lot of errors and nobody has taken responsibility for dealing with these errors. In terms of expectations, the learners will probably expect the teacher to do something with the language they have produced and failure to do anything at all can eventually lead to frustration and reluctance to participate in communicative activities.
An interesting approach would be for the teacher to write down persistent errors and then prioritize them before the next lesson, selecting a number that will be of use to the class as a whole. It may even be possible to focus on a teaching point that has emerged during the previous class conversation: for instance, a number of errors in reporting questions might lead to a lesson that clarifies the main rules in the language area.
Another approach is to record a discussion section on an audio tape, make several copies of the tape and then divide the class into groups and ask them to transcribe a short section. Having transcribed the section, the groups exchange papers and correct any errors they find. The process is repeated until they are satisfied that all sections are correct. The teacher can then check this in a feedback stage with the whole class.