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by Erica Fischer on Apr 21, 2014

Fostering Deeper Learning Through Feedback

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our discussion on April 17! The conversation centered on how (and in what language) to provide students with feedback to support deeper learning. This topic generated a lively discussion, and we would like to extend a special thanks to our moderators: @SECottrell and @CoLeeSensei. In case you could not join the conversation on Twitter, have a look at the summary below.

Feedback… in the Target Language (TL) or First Language (L1)?

Participants expressed very different views regarding whether the target language should be used to provide students with feedback. They took a variety of factors into consideration in order to make this decision:

  • Students’ Level in the TL: @CoLeeSensei considers students’ level in the TL: “If its general to my [Year] 4’s it can be in either – if it’s specific to 1 Student – often in English.” @ProfeHardwick agreed: “I think it would depend on the level or the students proficiency to determine which language to give the feedback in.”
  • Comprehensibility: @SECottrell highlighted one view: “to always give feedback in English, on the premise that it’s important for students to understand it all.” @NicoleNaditz advocated for giving feedback in the TL “if there is no chance of misunderstanding.” @mme_sanders gages whether or not she thinks a particular student will understand her feedback: “For me it depends on the student, if I know they will understand then definitely en français!”
  • Need for maximum exposure to the TL: @SECottrell said, “One [view] is to give feedback in TL because after all they’re supposed to be learning TL.”
  • Time limitations: @sr_delaney brought up time as a consideration: “Lots of students and not always lots of time. English is usually language of choice for me.”
  • Nature of the feedback: @ProfeCochran takes the type of feedback into consideration: “If it is formative, on the spot: [Spanish (TL)] (corrective fdbck, obvi). Otherwise, I lean toward English [L1].” @SenoraDiamond55 uses English to provide feedback on linguistic nuances: “For finer points, I tend toward English. Maybe not ideal, but I think for the little things it is perhaps a better fit. Perhaps.”
  • Focusing on standards: Some instructors look to the standards. @MmeCarbonneau wrote, “Feed back is always in English for me (MS students 11-14) based on standards, I can statements, expectations and evidence.” @SECottrell added, “if we’re functioning completely on standards, it has to be English, b/c standards say they can’t understand it.”

10 Tips for Providing Feedback that Fosters Growth

1. Make it timely! @MmeCarbonneau commented that fast feedback is difficult but necessary: “Feedback needs to be timely…I struggle to get things back to them in a timely fashion. Too many students and not enough time.” She is also exploring technological tools that allow instructors to assess student learning (e.g. through class polls), provide feedback, and immediately adapt their instruction: “Been looking into quick assessment type tools like Pear Deck, Infused Learning, Google forms that give me on the spot LIVE…”

2. Encourage self-reflection. @NicoleNaditz wrote, “build in some self- or auto-correcting activities. Tough to design well & must be blended with others.” @senoraCMT suggested one possible activity: “Allow self feedback by having them write on every other line. At end of the writing time, give time to beef up, self correct.” @profepj3 has students listen to themselves: “This week I had students reflect on what their proficiency level was, then record themselves, listen, then rate themselves.” @muchachitaMJ asks students to reflect on what they have done well and what they wish to improve: “I always give time to reflect after feedback…what’s 1 thing you’re proud of? 1 thing you learned or will improve next time?”

3. Allow for peer feedback. @jennifer_spain commented, “you can teach them to give feedback to each other as well = valuable voices in the process,” adding that “Students accept feedback from each other more readily than they take it from teachers sometimes.” @tiesamgraf agreed that “Peer feedback is powerful too[l] – especially if it is another class -did more of this this year.” @muchachitaMJ puts students into feedback groups: “I pull students in groups of 4-5 for specific fdbk (1 group – help with order issues, others need variety of vocab, etc).”

4. Find a coding system that works for you. @CoLeeSensei shared her system: “Yr 3&4 get feedback on writing in ‘colour’ Green – Grammar issue Blue-vocab – they seek me when they don’t know what’s wrong.” She added, “I’ve gone to the “highlight” add-on in Docs – at end it can ‘aggregate’ the highlights for student.” @NicoleNaditz has developed a code, too: “Code tells type of error. They then correct all or specific codes depending on lesson goals.” @MmeCarbonneau uses Google Docs to annotate student work: “Love Google Docs and annotation apps that let me give feedback quickly,” and @CoLeeSensei pointed out the possibility for recorded oral feedback: “You can now do voice comments in Google Docs – might be worth a try!”

5. Consider creating student portfolios. Portfolios allow instructors to store student writing samples with feedback and track student progress. @SECottrell wrote, “implementing LinguaFolio at a school is on my bucket list.” @MmeCarbonneau suggested Flipgrid as another option: “Have you seen Flipgrid? Great way to see progression in oral work!” @jennifer_spain is currently using Edmodo: “Still playing with portfolio formats – tried Google, moved to Edmodo…”

6. Be aware of student goals and concerns. @jennifer_spain wrote, “I’ve invited kids to write lists on the board of what they want feedback on before presenting – great ideas.” @madamebaker added, “Students can set their own goals too, based on can do statements, proficiency standards.” @SECottrell surveys students to get their feedback and understand their goals and concerns: “I suggested this as a resolution this year – survey your students”

7. Incorporate positive feedback. @madamebaker emphasized the importance of commenting on what students can do well: “How about giving students POSITIVE feedback for what they CAN do…” @NicoleNaditz agreed: “yes! I’ve had [great] success w/ “you are quite good at X and now you’re ready to try Y on future work.” @km_york commented, “I like to do one strength, and one suggestion for improvement for next time,” and @SenoraWienhold proposed the sandwich method: “Compliment sandwich. 2 positives surrounding a negative.”

8. Encourage students to take risks. @alenord wrote that “if they think the A they earned means they have arrived, they will stop challenging [themselves].” @CoLeeSensei responded that “Sometimes they have to tell me where they are taking their risks – thinking about their learning.”

9. Keep providing feedback. @senorita_jess has students make changes after receiving feedback and resubmit their work for a grade: “rough copy, [feedback], return, edit/redo, turn in again, grade.” @CoLeeSensei replied, “Love this idea – build, refine, build again.”

10. Make sure students actually read the feedback! @SECottrell wrote, “it’s important, for one thing, to make sure students are actually reading the feedback!” @cadamsf1 echoed this comment and pointed out that not giving students a score inclines them to read teacher feedback: “This is sooo true! I have found if I don’t put a # [students] will at least read feedback hunting for the grade.”


There are many ways to foster deeper learning through feedback. It is important to develop techniques that work well for you and your students. The #langchat discussion generated a number of suggestions, and we invite you to continue to share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this post!

Thank You

Thank you so much to @SECottrell and @CoLeeSensei for moderating this rich discussion. Due to space limitations, many great comments had to be omitted from this summary. To view the entire conversation, you can access the full transcript on our tweet archive.

If you have any comments or questions that you would like to share with the #langchat community, do not hesitate to do so. Send us your ideas for future #langchats so that our weekly discussions can become as relevant and inclusive as possible!

Elementary in Spanish
Erica Fischer
Erica is the founder and CEO of Calico Spanish. Her passion for teaching her own children to speak Spanish led her to create Calico Spanish. Our mission is to give all children the opportunity to learn to speak real Spanish for life.

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