Are you excellent?

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I’m all for acknowledging and celebrating success and excellence in teaching, so when Pearson asked me if I’d like to mention their teaching award on Primary Stories I was very happy to oblige. The very process of identifying why you believe you are a good teacher is an enriching exercise for a number of reasons. A lot of reflection in teaching revolves around what didn’t go exactly to plan, and what could have been done differently, or better. Feedback on observed lessons tends to focus on procedures, and how you do things rather than on what impact you are having on each individual student in your class. However experienced the observer, they cannot know what you were faced with at the start of the year, and how far each child has come in the context of their own learning. As a teacher trainer who regularly does observation and feedback I don’t want to imply that this process is invalid. Instead I want to suggest that rather than waiting nervously for your yearly formal observation for judgement on your teaching, you trust the evidence you have before you. Evidence gathered from hours and hours of classroom experience, time spent getting to know your students, what they like and don’t like and what they are good at or need help with. Evidence which inevitably feeds into the lessons which you plan.

Easy? Not so much. Identifying what makes you an excellent teacher means making a conscious decision to build regular self-reflection into your already busy schedule, and then really engaging with what is happening in the classroom. Young learner teachers are advised amongst other things to include in lessons a mixture of activities which alternately stir then settle students to cater for their short attention spans and burn off excess energy, to provide plenty of scaffolding to make tasks achievable, to build in plenty of repetition and revision as young children forget quickly, and to establish routines so the focus can remain on learning rather than classroom management. This is all sound advice, but it’s easy to mistake a lesson which includes all these elements and from which children leave happy for an excellent lesson, and therefore excellent teaching. Put children in a classroom and they will undoubtedly learn, but are they reaching their full potential?

It’s hard to define what makes a great teacher. Google threw up various ideas, namely excellent knowledge of subject matter, good organisation, planning and communication skills, solid classroom management and the ability to build a sense of community. What often seems to be missing from these lists is the ability to pitch lessons with an appropriate level of challenge, catering to the varying needs of all the students in the classroom.

Without strong relationships, aka rapport, a plus one level of challenge is potentially detrimental for children who may fear failure and become demotivated. But rapport, both between teacher and students and between classmates, is also slippery to define. We often talk about a positive learning environment or an atmosphere conducive to learning, however, as previously mentioned a popular and fun teacher can often keep children busy on tasks without necessarily doing any teaching. The teaching advice given for building rapport always astonishes me, because it seems to be nothing more than how we would expect two people to behave towards each other in any given situation anyway. Show respect, listen, be fair, learn names, be authentically yourself, to list a few identified by Scrivener (2005) and Harmer (2007). It’s easy to forget that what’s obvious to us, isn’t obvious to everyone. It very much depends on the role models you have growing up. When teaching young children a foreign language, it’s also easy to forget that they are curious about things they don’t understand, that they are capable of making informed decisions and judgements, that they have opinions they want to express and that they are easily influenced by those around them.

The UN convention on the rights of the child states that all children have the right to express their views and that these views be taken seriously by adults, as well as the right to learn and express their opinions. At times, being a teacher can feel overwhelming and simply teaching the language seems a big enough task on its own – surely there’s someone else who can deal with all these other things? I’ve worked at private language schools which have special weeks dedicated to important issues, for example environment week, anti-bullying week, equality and diversity week, where everyone is expected to teach lessons on a particular theme. Some teachers inevitably discover during these weeks that a (very small) percentage of their students actually hold some pretty unsavory views. It also turns these big issues into something special, when they should be commonplace and every day. Awareness is certainly raised, but I’d hope most teachers address these issues as needs arise. I believe these weeks would be much more impactful if they were an opportunity to share and celebrate all that has been learnt or achieved about these issues throughout the year, rather than an allocated time to address potentially tricky subjects that are best left alone the rest of the time for fear of causing offence. Advice for teachers dealing with inappropriate comments from students is often to divert, diffuse and distract, then have a quiet word with the relevant student(s) after the lesson. If we don’t talk about big issues in the classroom, then where can they be safely and intelligently talked about?

For me, an excellent teacher is someone genuinely interested in his or her students whatever their age. He or she challenges their students to think by asking them questions, by engaging with their ideas and by guiding them where necessary. An excellent teacher has high expectations of their students and is not afraid to face the needs of their students full on, whatever they may be. It’s someone who understands their responsibility in helping the children they teach grow up making wise, intelligent, informed decisions about their own lives and the lives of those around them. For me, being an excellent teacher is much more than helping children make progress in their particular subject. Are you the best role model possible for the students you teach? If so, then get entering this competition and I’ll see you at IATEFL Brighton 2018!

References:

Harmer, J. (2007) The Practice of English Language Teaching (4th edn). Harlow: Pearson Longman.

Scrivener, J. (2005) Learning Teaching: A Guidebook for English Language Teachers (2nd edn). Oxford: Macmillan.

Guest blogger for IATEFL YLTSIG

Summer is a hectic time for a freelance teacher trainer which goes some way to explaining my rather extended leave from Primary Stories. I’ve been back in Beirut working on Lebanon’s Accelerated Learning Programme, done a couple of CELTA courses, become an online tutor and to top it off I’m this month’s guest blogger for IATEFL’s young learner special interest group. So still no blog for Primary Stories, but you can read my post, which focuses on key questions for Early Years providers, here.

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Photo: Pixabay

  

Parent power

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First up a bit of boasting. I just walked 799km in 31 days. I’m quite proud of myself. I also had the luxury of stepping away from the world of teaching for a whole month. And not just away from teaching – from the real world itself. When on a long distance trek there are no real decisions to make, you simply wake up, walk, eat, sleep and repeat. Despite this, it took me a good week or so to get out of the habit of looking for things to be stressed about. What if my feet hurt? What if it rains? What if I can’t find a cash machine? What if the next hostel also doesn’t have WiFi and I can’t Facebook my fabulous photos? And what about all those people looking at my fabulous Facebook photos thinking teachers have it easy? All these long holidays, who are they to complain about their heavy workloads? Actually, I don’t think my friends think like that and even if they do I don’t really care, but teachers do have a reputation for making a meal of it, and that is very unfair.

Most teachers I know are freelance, or they have contracts which run October to June, which means it’s almost impossible to survive the year without taking on some sort of summer job. Like any profession, there is a huge focus on professional development with many teachers taking on extra work or additional courses to enhance their prospects. I’m currently working full time on this refugee project, setting up my first CELTA as main course tutor and completing an online course in online tutoring (the IHCOLT if you’re interested). I’m also trying to keep up this blog, enjoy the short time I have in Lebanon, and right now trying to catch up with everything that’s been going on in TEFL while I’ve been off the radar.

Luckily, I stumbled upon a lovely blog post from Emily Hird, who had helpfully summarized the what’s hot and what’s not of YL nicely for me (read her post here). It’s all about current trends in young learner education, all of which require skillful handling by the teacher. It’s a pretty big task teaching a foreign language to a small child, and on top of that we need to remember to develop life skills, creativity, innovation, social values… the list goes on. I love how much good intention there is in primary teaching. A lot of teachers stick to adults and teens, not that those classes can be called easy, but it is generally accepted that to teach primary you need to put in a lot of effort and develop a totally different skill set. Many (admittedly not all) of the essential skills mentioned by Emily are well developed by adulthood, but to incorporate them into the primary classroom can be daunting. These skills call for an increase in communication between students, more collaboration and learner autonomy and a relinquishing of control from the teacher, all of which is brilliant and all of which can lead to classroom management nightmares.

Once you have classroom management under control it’s astonishing how much you can achieve in a young learner classroom, and just how mature young children can be. It’s a joy to see groups of children working on creative projects, supporting each other and taking responsibility for their own learning. There are many ideas for behaviour management, commonly reward systems, which I’m not going to write about here. What I want to focus on is parental involvement. Not in terms of meetings, messages, reporting or responding to problems – things which are time consuming and potentially reactionary. I want to share my recommendations for maintaining open channels of communication with parents via a few time-efficient strategies which have worked for me. When students know you have access to their mums and dads the stakes are suddenly raised and you can often turn your attention to teaching rather than crowd control. Having open communication with parents can also have a dramatic effect on the progress and achievement of your students. When parents show interest in what their child is learning and know how to help practice language at home, the results in the classroom are noticeable.

  1. Lesson summaries

lesson summaryPrivate English lessons are expensive so parents understandably have high expectations and want results. The age for learning a foreign language at school is getting lower and lower and English is seen as a priority to give children a head start in life. When parents know what their child does in class, there are two major benefits. Firstly, they have a deeper understanding of what to expect, e.g. their 5 year old is not going to be having fluent conversations in English after a couple of lessons. Secondly, a large majority of them actually want to help, and when parents practice lesson content at home with their child, there is much less work for the teacher. I always use lesson summaries, which you can download here, as a way of keeping parents in the loop. I put the main lesson content along with the homework task, and a short description of what parents can do at home to further support their child learning English. Not too much detail is required, and in fact I always prepare mine when I’m planning the lesson, so if I’m not sure how much of the lesson I will get through I play it safe and stick to something I know I will cover. I can always add things to the next lesson summary if I miss something important. I use these for all early years and primary students, but they work particularly well for the younger students up to the age of about 10. Older students are more capable of remembering and telling their parents what they learnt, particularly if you use Assessment for Learning strategies such as WALT, or Can Do Statements. I give out my summaries as the children leave the classroom, that way they make it straight into the hands of their parents instead of disappearing into school bags never to be seen again.

  1. Monthly portfolios

portfolioSomething interesting happens when students know you have a way of contacting their parents. I don’t like to use the whole ‘Do you want me to contact your parents?’ threat because unless you follow it up it is fairly useless, and in following it up you give yourself (and potentially your colleagues) a lot of work. When I introduced monthly portfolios (download here ) it was a way of getting my students to reflect on and celebrate what they had learnt. It was also a way for me to get feedback. It works excellently in those ways, but it is also a good way to keep in touch with parents and again show them the value in their child’s lessons. Each month I choose 3 different criteria to reflect on, such as new words I learnt, my favourite topic, the funniest moment, my new skill, my best piece of work, how my teacher can help me, my ideas for next month. Students fill in the boxes by writing and/or drawing, and I collect them all in to comment on. Once I’ve commented, the students take them home, show their parents who sign and bring it back to me. It is also signed by the student before being stuck in their notebook. ‘Do you want me to contact your parents?’ turns into ‘remember I’ll be commenting on your portfolio soon’ and the students know you mean it. It’s a routine and easy way to increase communication with home in a non-threatening way.

  1. Behaviour certificates

behaviour certificate imageSometimes certain students need a bit of extra motivation to keep on track in the classroom. I’m quite liberal with certificates, I have them for all sorts of things – helping my partner, working hard, arriving on time – whatever is needed. Children with behavioural issues, for whatever reason, often struggle to get generic rewards such as these, or stickers or points depending on what system the teacher uses. One of my favourite ways to keep a problematic child on task is by introducing a behaviour certificate, which I personalize for the child in question by writing specific achievable targets. To set up in class, I find a quiet moment at the start of the lesson to show the certificate to the child in question and go over the expectations. I usually ask the child how they are feeling and if they think they can meet the targets. If the targets are met during the course of the lesson, they are ticked off and the student chooses a sticker for the blank space and takes the certificate home. If I can’t tick all the boxes we keep it and continue in the next lesson. I have never had issues with jealousy or competitiveness from other class members, as children are usually very discerning and understanding. Someone being naughty is all part and parcel of being a child, and if someone needs extra reminding or help they tend to accept that. As long as they feel they are being fairly rewarded for their effort and contributions there shouldn’t be a problem. This one doesn’t relate directly to parental involvement, but certain children never get the rewards or the stickers, only nagging and complaints from the teacher. Getting a special certificate sends a very positive message to the child and the child’s parents. It shows that the teacher is offering help and acknowledging good work and progress. Download the template here

Teachers do have very heavy workloads, since the business of teaching is a very serious one. Clear and transparent communication with parents takes some of the responsibility and strain off. It can improve behaviour in the classroom, and increase the amount of support and language practice your students get outside the classroom. Additionally, parents love to know what’s going on with their children, and arguably have a right to know what they do in lessons. Why not try some of these strategies and see what works for you? I’d love to hear how you get on. Perhaps you have other ways of keeping in touch with parents in a positive and time-efficient way which you could share with us. If so please comment below.

A word in edgeways

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I am a bit of a reluctant writer. I very much enjoy writing, but I’m deeply aware of the over-abundance of words written about anything and everything and am loathe to contribute yet more to the never ending stream of information. I have an image of this blog post eating itself. If the content focuses on the complete superfluity of words, does that somehow negate the words I use?

I remember very little about my grandfather, but I do remember one thing. When visiting one weekend I must have been sitting mutely as he commented ‘that one is a thinker’. It stayed with me. Firstly because I took it as a compliment. Secondly because at that moment he was right. I will never purport to being a great thinker, however at that precise moment I was thinking. I was thinking how strange it was that people kept on repeating the same things, the same stories and opinions to different people on different days. The same stuff, changing slightly in detail and opinion with each telling as new angles and shades of meaning became apparent, but essentially the same old things over and over and over again. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to say anything unless it was really worth saying.

Had I decided to live my life by only saying things which were new and significant I doubt I’d ever have said anything at all, and I certainly wouldn’t have been much use to all the students and teachers I have worked with. Especially as we know that when learning a language repetition and revision are key to success, and rehearsing what and how to say something is greatly beneficial to students of all ages.

I do stand by the sentiment though, in particular in relation to my current profession. There is far too much writing about teaching which simply repackages what we already know. Now I am freelance and have the freedom to be selective about the projects I take on, I have more time to engage with the many teaching websites, blogs and publications, and some of them are excellent. When I was working full time as a teacher I simply did not have time to sort the wheat from the chaff and was generally mistrustful of blogs. I did however spend a lot of time searching for lesson materials, hoping that the perfect quiz/article/video for my lesson topic would be miraculously waiting for me.

Staff rooms are jam packed with resources for teaching every kind of lesson. The internet is a minefield of sites sharing teaching tips, worksheets, lesson plans, games, activities, the list goes on. Many teachers, myself included have photocopies of extra resources squirreled away in folders kept just in case there is some sort of TEFL communicative activity emergency.

You can interpret this as a real commitment amongst teachers to share and collaborate, which is wonderful. But it can also indicate a reliance on extra activities and resources as a substitute for real teaching and learning. It’s easy to blame the coursebook as being deficient, and therefore justify the constant search for something to supplement it with. But I would argue it’s much better to spend time improving the tool you are given than in the endless search for the perfect activity. Doing more with what you already have frees up valuable time to think carefully about your lesson aims, or learning intentions, and how you will ensure that your students take something new away from every lesson they attend. It allows you to really plan how you will clarify new language and improve your students’ skills by helping them to engage with essential language and learning strategies.

Supplementing the coursebook, creating your own worksheets, using authentic materials: these things are all great. But having time to reflect, research, discuss and drink coffee is also great.

To free up a bit of your precious time here are a few of my go to no prep activities using only the coursebook:

Picture quiz

Give students 30 seconds to memorise a picture and then close their books. Put students into pairs and ask quiz style questions (e.g. what colour were the man’s socks? What hand was the woman holding her mobile phone?). Score 1 point for each correct answer.

Text bingo

Tell students the topic of the text they will be working with (reading or listening). Pairs brainstorm a set number of words they expect to appear in the text (content rather than grammar words). Use this as your gist task – the pair who correctly predicted the most words are the winners.

Vocab hunt

After following the usual procedure for teaching reading, put students into pairs and distribute mini-whiteboards or scrap paper and markers. Give definitions for words/phrases in the text which students race to find and write on their mini-boards. Focus on a mixture of the vocabulary you pre-taught as well as other useful words or phrases that your students have encountered before. Make sure you go through the text in order to provide support. The first pair to hold up the correct word get the point. At the end you can ask students to go through the text and highlight all the words you defined, writing short definitions for the ones they found tricky.

Banana dictation

After completing gap fills provide further practice by including a banana dictation. Students take it in turns to read the sentences to their partner but instead of the missing word they say ‘banana’. Their partner provides the missing word from memory. Students can then make up their own gapped sentences using the same structure to provide even more consolidation.

Vocab swap

Students choose a new word, collocation or phrase from the lesson and write it on a scrap of paper. They walk around the room to find a partner and define their word for their partner to guess. Once both students have guessed they swap papers and mingle to find a new partner to repeat the activity.

So what I’m trying to say is say less and do less. Or rather do more with what you already have. Have confidence in your own ideas and creativity. After all, any piece of material is only ever as good as the teacher utilising it.

Performance and progress: some pragmatic pointers (or how to write better student reports)

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Since going freelance I’ve been having problems defining what I do. Some days I’m a writer, others a conference speaker. I’m a teacher trainer and when I get the chance, a teacher. My non-teaching friends are mystified so I’ve gone back to referring to myself as a teacher to them. Professionally speaking my job title is getting longer and longer and therefore more and more ridiculous, and I need to find a snappy title which encapsulates the various things I do. I’m toying with going with Primary Guru, but that excludes all the work I do on CELTA and does seem a little grandiose, particularly considering I now do a fair amount of work from home in my pyjamas. Anyway, last week I was a writer. I love writing and I’m very much enjoying the project, but spending so much time writing for work meant I had no inclination to then spend my evenings writing for Primary Stories. This week, however, I’m zooming around Poland presenting at conferences and there’s nothing better than meeting teachers and listening to their ideas and opinions to get my blogging brain in gear.

If you live in Poland you’ll be aware of the upcoming structural changes to compulsory education. I’m presenting on the curriculum changes which impact primary teachers. Essentially there is a new core curriculum which emphasises amongst other things developing the ‘whole child’ via a holistic approach to teaching, and ensuring children have a positive early experience of foreign language learning to build self-confidence, self-esteem and lay the foundations for successful future learning. If you want to know how to do that, then come along to one of my sessions.

I have spent a lot of time analysing the new curriculum, which is very specific regarding what a child should be able to do at each stage of their formal education. The new curriculum also highlights the need for children to be aware of the learning process, and to be able to self-assess. I think self-assessment is great, however, it seems to me that in order for teachers to successfully facilitate self-assessment, they first need to be confident in assessing the students themselves.

Having a detailed curriculum allows teachers and schools to build up a syllabus for each subject detailing the specific items students will have learnt by the end of their course. Without a syllabus, the task of measuring progress is tricky. Looking back over the many years I’ve taught at private language schools, I can’t actually remember ever seeing a syllabus. There was always a coursebook with a contents page detailing the skills, grammar and vocabulary covered in each unit, and all the schools had created a pacing guide to go with it stating how much of each book should be covered during a course. Using a coursebook as a syllabus is not necessarily bad, but what about if two teachers teaching the same level at the same school are using different coursebooks? Not a big deal as most books cover similar language points at each level anyway. So far so good, although there is a but. Compared to other languages, many of which have a large number of inflections, English grammar is relatively straightforward. Learning the various verb forms is not in itself challenging. It’s learning when to use them which is. Take the past simple. We can use it to talk about the past – I won a swimming competition when I was 6, but we can also use it in conditional sentences to talk about the future – if I won the lottery, I’d buy a new car. We are not referring to a particular failed attempt in the past but alluding to the slight but real possibility that we may win the lottery in the future. Introducing the different usages gradually is absolutely the correct thing to do. The problem lies in the way we articulate what is being learnt. Look at a beginner A0 level coursebook contents page and you will see a unit on the past simple. Look at a CPE C2 level course book and it’s still there. The problem with using a coursebook as a syllabus is that if a student learns the past simple in their first English course, why are they still learning it 10 years later as an advanced student? We know it is different, but how do we successfully and helpfully communicate with students exactly what they have learnt and what still needs to be learnt?

It’s worth thinking about vocabulary too. English has a very large active vocabulary and as such many students struggle more with lexis than grammar. Again, there is some continuity across published materials in terms of what types of words are appropriate at each level, but since most books introduce vocabulary through texts there is a reasonable amount of variation. We often see towns and cities in B1 level coursebooks, but where one teaches cosmopolitan, industrial and spectacular another teaches provincial, vibrant and polluted. Again, variation is no bad thing, each teacher naturally tailors lessons and the material they cover to the needs of their particular students. The problem lies in how we communicate progress to students.

In a world where everything has to be measurable, how are we actually measuring our students? When teachers are asked to use continuous assessment and implement student self-assessment, what guidelines and training are they being given? Is self-assessment done badly better than no self-assessment or is it just a waste of precious class time?

I decided to look back on what input the average TEFL teacher gets on assessing students. CELTA courses are required to include a session on assessment. My session looks at what makes a test good or bad, moving on to familiarisation with Cambridge exams. Both CELTA and Delta include input on conducting feedback, but the emphasis is on conveying answers and upgrading student language during the course of lessons. Trainees on CELTA and Delta are required to participate in group feedback and comment on other trainee’s lessons which is very useful and great practice. But in these cases they are concentrating on one teacher and have specific observation tasks to direct them. When working as a full time teacher I had 8 groups with around 12 students per group, so it was close to 100 students, and three times I year I was required to write reports for them. Some students were remarkably easy to write about – the high flyers and the little monsters. Most students, however, ended up with very generalised comments such as he participates well in class, and she would benefit from completing homework tasks on time.

When I was a CELTA trainer in training, affectionately known as the TiT, I spent every day for two whole months learning how to give feedback to trainees. I learnt what to look for, what to prioritise, how to structure written feedback and how to deliver oral feedback to benefit each individual on the course. It’s not just about knowing whether a lesson is good or not, it’s knowing how to best reach a trainee by taking their individual needs into consideration. Do they need a confidence boost? Will they respond better to direct feedback or a more softly softly approach? Is the feedback constructive enough that the trainee can move forward or do you run the risk of making them feel demotivated and unsure how to proceed? It’s not easy.

The first step towards giving meaningful feedback is gathering pertinent information. When you see students for as little as 2 or 3 hours per week it’s only natural that the task of teaching takes priority, and keeping track of individual student progress takes a back seat. So how can we build up a comprehensive picture of each student’s strengths and weaknesses when dealing with such limited time? In my last school, teachers were required to keep a record of grades throughout the semester for the four skills, grammar and vocabulary. Continuous assessment, rather than basing everything on an end of year test, is widely recognised as good practice. But simply writing down grades didn’t really help me when it came to writing reports and giving useful feedback to parents. All it really told me was whether or not a student was strong or weak in each area, resulting in report comments such as he is good at listening but needs to develop his reading skills. What use is that to any student or their parent? Which skills are we referring to? Are there any strategies the student needs to develop? Which ones? As I said there are countless benefits to using continuous assessment, however, this particular manifestation did not go far enough. What helped me was giving myself a few specific questions to focus on where students were, and what they needed to do to improve. I kept these questions in my register and focused on a couple of students each week, although it very much depended on the lesson. Sometimes there was plenty of breathing space for me to monitor closely and keep a record, other lessons required a much more active teacher role and I’d leave assessment for another day. Only focussing on a few students at a time reduces the tendency to simply compare students to one another and instead analyse each student within the context of his or her own individual learning. I also found I became much better at noticing what was going on in my classes and was naturally much more engaged with every student, not just the strongest most active or those with demanding behaviours. I was able to assess each student ‘formally’ 4 or 5 times during a semester, but this focussed observation also led to me being a better judge of the effect of my lessons on students, and inadvertently to improved teaching and learning.

Here are some questions which helped me, and I hope you can use them as a starting point:

  1. He/she participates and shows interest in lessons
  2. He/she tries to solve problems and complete tasks before asking for help
  3. He/she listens and contributes equally during pairwork
  4. He/she uses language and strategies covered during the course

There is nothing new about this form of monitoring, but what is helpful is to analyse what this information tells us. Question 1 gives us clues about student motivation and how active they are in the learning process. Taking a more active role in lessons would be good advice for a seemingly disinterested student, as well as looking at what you can do to involve that student more, by building in to lessons topics, tasks and activities which appeal to them. Question 2 gives information on independent, or autonomous learning. We want students to develop problem solving skills and to rely on their own instincts, but never asking for help can also be detrimental. Students need to discern when help is needed, and decide the most appropriate place to find that help. Question 3 tells us about a student’s communicative competency. When teaching skills, we tend to have one main aim in mind, the students may be getting a lot of speaking practice but in a listening lesson the ultimate goal is to improve students’ listening skills. In real life, listening and speaking are inextricable. When assessing question 3 we are engaging not only with the amount of participation, but also with a whole range of skills – the ideas being presented, knowledge of turn taking, topic management, coping strategies, repair and so on. In a world where we emphasise learning to learn, question 4 helps us evaluate how well students use the recommended strategies. Some students love reading, others hate it. Some are good and some struggle. As foreign language teachers our goal is not to teach students how to read, it’s to teach them how to do it better in a foreign language. Grading students according to whether or not they are good at reading is not helpful, but looking at how they use strategies is. With this information we can make helpful and practical suggestions.

Gathering this sort of information, I would argue, makes the business of reporting student progress much easier. It contributes to pragmatic, personalised and helpful feedback which will help students move forwards with their efforts rather than simply looking back at what was good and bad about the past semester. After all, as the British Council will tell you – It’s all about the future!