Every single teacher feels a great delight when seeing their students fully participating in classroom activities. One of the effective ways of engaging them is to show how they have progressed over a certain time. When students are aware of their progress, they feel more motivated and empowered, they get a sense of competence and get inspiration through challenging times. In this article, we will discuss some techniques which will help learners see their progress. 

  1. Set Measurable Objectives

Learners need to know where they are heading to in their language learning process whether they are studying for an exam or passing through different language levels. Students usually get very pleased when they receive a certificate showing that they have completed a certain language level. This ordinary piece of paper motivates them a lot since it is a sort of visualization of their progress. End of the unit tests and quizzes can demonstrate how the students have progressed, what they have learnt throughout that period. 

Moreover, it is very important to tell students the objectives of every lesson. For example, 

By the end of the lesson, you will be able to:

  • Read and understand an article on how women are moving the career ladder today as compared to the past.
  • Talk to your friends and give opinions on difficulties of working women now versus in the past. 

These are the general objectives of the lesson. Apart from these, the students need to know all the skills they have learnt during the lesson. 

  • Vocabulary related to the career and modern life
  • Reading for gist 
  • Reading for details 
  • Using present and past tenses
  • Using comparative language 
  • Giving opinions 
  • Asking for opinions 
  1. Exit Tickets

Exit tickets help to reflect on students’ progress within each lesson by pointing out the language they have learnt and summarizing the lesson material. 

Examples of exit tickets can be:

  • What have you learnt in today’s lesson?
  • Which 5 words are you taking away with you?
  • Which language material did you fix easily? Which one was more challenging for you? 
  • Pronounce these words.
  • Tell synonyms to these words. 

From my experience, I can tell that students adore exit tickets and they reflect on the material they have learnt in quite a constructive way. You can make exit ticket quizzes and give 5 minutes to complete them at the end of the lesson. You can stick exit ticket questions on the door or the walls. Each student needs to take one question card and leave the class only after answering it. 

  1. Pre- and Post-task Checks

Suppose, you are covering a grammar topic (Present Perfect). Students can be given a diagnostic test on this topic (they need to fill in the blanks with present perfect tense or they have a multiple-choice test ) at the beginning of the lesson. After completing it, they are given the teacher’s input, and at the end of the lesson do the same test. In this way, they see what they have learnt and can correct mistakes in the first version of the test. It gives them a feeling of certain progress.  

A similar technique to show visible progress can be done while practising writing. Students may be given an email and be asked to answer it without getting any help from the teacher. After finishing the writing they may be given a table with questions which will help them reflect on how they have carried out the task. (Did you know what to write about? Did you know which linking words to use? Did you know how to start and finish the email? etc.). After a brief classroom discussion on given questions, students can give feedback on challenges they had while doing the task. Then the teacher gives them input on the necessary material they need while writing emails. At this stage, students learn the structure of emails, how to open and close them, which linking words they can use, etc. As a final stage, they do the writing again, having the teacher’s input. Afterwards, they discuss in pairs the same questions they were given after the first writing try. This time they get a clear insight on how they have progressed and what they have learnt. 

  1. Provide Meaningful Feedback 

One of the techniques which shows how students have advanced is teacher’s feedback. Students always value and are impatient to get some feedback from the teacher since this is the person who they rely on and refer to in terms of the knowledge. There are several ways of how teachers can provide meaningful feedback to their students. I will list some ways which turned out to be quite effective throughout my teaching experience. 

  • Comment on their small progress during each lesson (suppose they are doing a group speaking activity and you heard how one of the students used items from the new vocabulary, correct grammatical structure or functional language. Write it on the board or on a piece of paper and pass it to the student as a note. For example, Great job with this sentence….., So nice that you have used these words, etc ).
  • Daily friendly chats. At the end of each lesson, you can ask one of the students to stay in the classroom for a 5-minute talk. During this talk, you point out how they have progressed and express what else they can do to improve.
  • Short monthly reports which focus on their progress in Speaking, Listening, Reading, Writing, Vocabulary usage and Grammar competence. You highlight their strengths and ask them to think over the skills they need to work on more. It is stimulating and gives room for further development. 
  • From time to time send recorded comments on some great work and efforts the student has made to achieve a better result. For example, You have improved your writing. As compared to your previous essay, you have used more fixed expressions, linking words and have expressed your ideas in a more structured way.  
  1. Student Shadowing tool.

You might have heard about a shadowing technique to improve pronunciation. Well, shadowing can also mean a teacher following students during the lesson. What you need to do is to choose a student or students and monitor them closely during a lesson making notes in the table like the one below. 

0001 scaled SkyteachThen the information is transformed into a diagram that helps students to see their progress. 

Data collected from shadowing students can provide insights into student needs, become a catalyst for change and show them their progress.  You can download the shadowing document here.  

Regardless of the technique you choose to show your students how they have progressed, try to have it on a continuous basis so that students get more engaged in the classroom activities and have a feeling of being on the right track in their language learning voyage. 

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