In the last two posts, I looked at the …
“This teacher is wonderful; (s)he corrects as many writings as I want” syndrome.
I explained how ‘correction’ of written work can be done well, or done badly, and if it is done badly, this correction can be useless – meaning that your teacher is certainly not ‘wonderful’ at all. I mentioned how, as a Cambridge-accredited teacher-trainer, I do the whole correction process in the very best way, in a way which genuinely helps you get better. I mentioned that, for an IELTS Task 2 essay, there are actually four stages involved.
Stage One: Selecting/Designing the Question
Stage Two: Brainstorming Ideas
Stage Three: Error-coding the Writing
And here is the last stage.
The Fourth Stage: Feedback
For a given period of time in almost every IELTS Writing Class, there is the ‘Feedback on Writing’ session, where students have to analyse and correct their own writing. This is when true learning takes place. I facilitate this learning, giving students some hints and guidelines, and always running a few TPPs (Teacher’s Power Points) connected to typical grammar, logic, or structuring mistakes. To repeat, this is where true improvement starts happening. What makes my correction much better than any other teacher in the world is the page-number or exercise-number references on the writing paper which link to a course book written by me – a very practical course book designed to work! These references – for example …
Tip 19, 6
p.53 bottom 1
… can be written by no other teacher in the world.
Benjamin Franklin, the famous American polymath, said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me, and I may remember. Involve me and I learn.” He was a smart guy. He actually realised one of the key principles behind modern language teaching – that the only way to learn is to get involved with the learning material.
In my IELTS Writing Course, the students will write 5 Task-One, and 4 Task-Two writing assignments. This is already far more than most other IELTS teachers or centres will give, but the important point is that these writing pieces are given, processed, corrected, and analysed in a way which improves you, the student by involving you with all four of the previous stages.
Time to Judge Your Teacher’s Correction
Now, let’s go back to Teacher X, the ‘wonderful teacher’ who ‘corrects as much writing as you want.’ Remember, this teacher accepts a piece of writing based on a question you get from unknown sources, then spends a few minutes looking at it, gives you a lot of ticks, corrects a few mistakes, changes a few words, and writes, ‘Well done, but work on grammar’. And when you get the writing back, you do nothing. You just give her another piece of writing. And the process repeats. Here’s the assessment.
Teacher X = Bad
Well, you should know by now that Teacher X is not ‘wonderful’ at all. Teacher X is doing a bad job. Teacher X is either (1) untrained, (2) uncaring about your learning, or (3) deliberately following bad practice in order to impress you, or all three.
Teacher Y = Very Bad
Yes, it can even be worse, when Teacher Y doesn’t write anything on your essay, but just ‘explains’ everything to you in Chinese. You listen to Chinese, think in Chinese, nod your head, but you are doing nothing, and learning very little.
Teacher Z = Horrible
This leads to the worst system of all, when Teacher Z doesn’t give you any original writing at all. So how do you ‘learn’ to write? Teacher Z just asks you to copy ‘model answers’ from a book or the Internet, or memorise bits and pieces that are given in class (usually ‘explained’ in Chinese, and with Chinese translation). Unfortunately, this system can be very popular with students, since ...
(1) the students don’t have to think or try at all, and ...
(2) the teacher doesn’t have to think or try at all.
In this system, the teacher pretends to teach; the students pretend to learn, and everyone is happy. Hmmmmm. See Tricks to Watch Out For (TTWOF): ‘The Use of Chinese’ [1–6] and ‘Just memorise this’ (1–5).
The conclusion is that you need to carefully assess the value of how your teacher corrects your written work. Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad practices going around, but hopefully, you now know about it, and won’t fall for it, right?
Find the meaning of the underlined words, also repeated below.
- accredited (adj)
- genuine (adj)
- to facilitate (v)
- polymath (n)