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Making the most of feedback from your teacher

Updated: Oct 19, 2021




You’ve written your essay (or letter, article, report…) and given it to your teacher who has sent it back to you with lots of corrections and suggestions. Now is a good time to consider what you going to do with your writing and its corrections!

What most people do (and what you should do!)

Most learner read through the comments from their teacher then move onto the next piece of writing. Doing this, however, means missing valuable opportunities for learning and growth. It’s much better to spend some time looking at your teacher’s feedback and making an effort to learn from it. After all, you've already invested money into taking lessons so you need to make sure you get a maximum return on your investment! By doing this, you can progress quicker and improve weaknesses more effectively than if you rush straight onto the next piece.

What if there are so many mistakes that I feel overwhelmed?

A good teacher should not be causing you to feel depressed about your writing through pointing out vast numbers of mistakes. A good teacher will be sensitive to the current level of their students and will give feedback accordingly. I don’t expect the same quality of writing at B1 as I do at C1, for example.

However, if your writing is weak for your level (this is not uncommon so don't worry about it), there may be an uncomfortable number of problems in your writing as compared to your other skills. To prevent overwhelm, I suggest that you choose one or two specific issues to concentrate on and ignore everything else for now.


Six steps to making the most of feedback

1. Read through your teacher’s feedback carefully. Do you agree with their comments? A good teacher will be happy to discuss their feedback with you if you have any questions or objections.

2. Look at your mistakes and see if you can see any patterns or repeated mistakes such as problems with articles, inaccurate use of past tenses or spelling and punctuation problems. Repeated mistakes are important as they are highlighting a language area that you don’t yet understand.

3. Correct all the language mistakes that you can. Add in missing articles, change the past tense endings and check your spelling. Ask your teacher about any mistakes that you don’t know how to correct as it’s very important that you understand what mistake you made and how to put it right.

4. If you feel that there are too many mistakes for you to deal with in one go, choose one or two specific areas to work on. Prioritise repeated mistakes and patterns where possible.

5. Did your teacher comment on your organisation (sentence structure, paragraph structure and the overall organisation of the writing)? If so, what upgrading can you do here? Structure is often a very challenging area for learners as your first language and English can be very different. If your teacher has given you suggestions, use those to improve your writing. If not, think of one or two simple changes you could make.

6. Re-write either the entire piece or one section with all the corrections. You might like to send it back to your teacher to see what they say now!

This is a time-consuming strategy, there is no escaping from that. However, using it for at least part of each piece of writing you get back from your teacher will help you to really learn from your mistakes, and prevent them coming back in the future!


This post is adapted from a lesson in my Study Skills Workbook.


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