A vital part of the CELTA course is giving trainees valuable skills to monitor their students, give feedback and correct errors. Despite some initial doubts, Yulianto Lukito and Jo Roberts, experienced CELTA trainers at IH Sydney, say that there are effective ways to do this to ensure learners progress and improve their language skills.
In this article, they explain the techniques they have found to be the most effective for virtual monitoring, feedback and error correction during the online CELTA.
We admit to having our initial doubts about the effectiveness of monitoring and feedback prior to delivering the CELTA course online. We suspected that the teacher’s role as data collector could be significantly compromised in terms of diagnosing prior knowledge, learner performance and then determining feasible action points in the feedback stage. Moreover, their ability to monitor learners during individual work — e.g. a gap-fill task, helping weaker learners, and challenging strong ones — would be diminished. Ultimately, there would also be a limited variety of feedback techniques available to trainees.
Having explored a range of monitoring strategies via the Zoom platform, however, we can confidently say that monitoring learners’ performance during activities has proven to be easily achievable through switching between groups in different breakout rooms, ensuring a balanced manner of monitoring in terms of interaction and level of participation. The teacher can determine what type of monitoring should be implemented based on the task types. For example, the video may be stopped to conduct discreet monitoring, which seemed to encourage learners to speak at greater length. Similarly, the camera can be turned on at any time to conduct active and/or participatory monitoring (intervening, helping, prompting, or correcting). Online learning may even be better suited to some learners’ personality as it is less invasive. This is particularly true of monitoring as the possibility of being ‘a fly on the wall’ in a breakout room allows for more attentive listening due to a lack of background noises and learner self-consciousness.
In order to aid the teacher’s monitoring process, increase visual clarity, and time efficiency, we advise trainees to consider asking the learners to put ticks, question marks, or crosses next to the items that they find easy, doubtful, or difficult respectively. This technique has significantly sped up the monitoring process, particularly when a lot of learners are present in several breakout rooms. The teacher can easily refer to these symbols while addressing issues in the subsequent feedback stage, including delayed error correction. For purposeful, consistent monitoring of tasks, it is essential that breakout rooms are combined with other online applications (see below) and that one learner in each breakout room be instructed to share their screen, thereby allowing the trainee to monitor not only what the learners are saying but also what they are writing, and their progress and pace with completing the task.
Online feedback techniques
As for feedback techniques, trainees are encouraged to vary the ways in which meaningful, efficient, and visually clear feedback can be conducted. Some of these techniques involve whole class oral elicitation, showing pre-planned answer keys on the slide, nominating (fast-finishing) learners to annotate their answers on the screen, and simply using the chatbox to share their answers with one another.
Here are some recommended websites and applications, which we used during our input sessions as models and examples for the trainees to use in the Teaching Practice lessons:
Word wall - https://wordwall.net/
Quizlet - https://quizlet.com/
Liveworksheets - https://www.liveworksheets.com/
Socrative - https://www.socrative.com/
Quizalize - https://www.quizalize.com/
Padlet - https://padlet.com/
Kahoot - https://kahoot.it/
Google.Doc and Jamboard (part of Google Drive)
Along with the breakout rooms, these tools proved crucial in making the lessons sufficiently varied, engaging and interactive compared to those in the physical classroom. These go-to websites are user-friendly, free, practical, and workable as they can be used as a substitute for many tactile activities that are known to promote classroom engagement and dynamicity. For instance, tools like Word wall, Liveworksheets, and Jamboard cleverly re-package common task types — multiple-choice, gap-fill, true or false, sentence completion, syntax (word ordering) — into visually-appealing applications and games, engaging learners in a way which taps into their doubtless familiarity with and day-to-day use of smartphones and other devices.
Moreover, tools such as Socrative, Quizalize, and Quizlet have shown themselves to be incredibly useful for diagnostics, and can also be used for assessments (formative and summative), as well as periodic out-of-class exercises to promote autonomous learning. Finally, most of these tools can be set up so that immediate feedback on student answers can be given.
With thanks to Yulianto and Jo.
Yulianto Lukito has been an ELT educator (teacher/trainer/examiner) since 1997. He holds an MA in Applied Linguistics, MA TESOL, and Cambridge Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (DELTA). In addition to teaching all levels and a wide range of English courses over the years, he has contributed to various professional development events such as conferences, webinars, and journals both locally and internationally.
Jo Roberts holds a BA (Hons) in Modern Languages and Marketing, and a Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE/ PCET) in TESOL. She has taught at private English schools, universities, Further Education colleges and community-based centres focussed on new migrants and refugees. She has been training on Teacher Training courses (CELTA, CERT IV, FE for ESOL subject specialists) since 2005. She is also a Cambridge CELTA assessor and IH World Inspector.