Generally there are plenty of models for giving feedback. They revolve around a student’s self-assessment, teacher observations and making action plans. As TEFL teachers, we can’t really buy in to these models because we don’t have English to rely on and often it is not possible.

Positive / Negative Feedback

We understand positive feedback to mean giving praise to a student when they have given the correct answer, when it is a close effort or generally just to be supportive. Negative feedback means telling the student that the answer they have given is not correct or satisfactory or should / could be better. Negative feedback doesn’t mean that they did a terrible job just that it wasn’t the desired answer.

Unfortunately, due to human nature, hearing “no”, “wrong” and “incorrect” tends to affect a student’s confidence. As mentioned in the corrections unit, confidence plays a major role in learning and using a language. For this reason, using the positive / negative feedback system may not be ideal for TEFL teachers.

Constructive criticism

Constructive criticism is a slight shift in delivering negative feedback. Instead of focusing on what was incorrect, we actually focus on what they need to improve on. These days, we think of constructive criticism as the best way to deliver feedback at school and work so why not in a TEFL classroom?

We think that the best way to deliver constructive criticism is to deliver the feedback in a ‘Praise’ sandwich. For example:

Teacher: good try, almost right – PRAISE

Teacher: Remember it’s not I has but I have – CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM

Teacher: but good work, keep going – PRAISE

Keeping it positive

A huge part of what we do is based around correcting people, even when we wrap our criticism in praise. People find it difficult to be corrected the world over so one of our main jobs is to keep the atmosphere in the classroom as upbeat and positive as possible. TEFL teachers look for any opportunity to give positive affirmation until it becomes a habit. Students move correctly: “good”; they open their books to the right page: “good”; and when they get the question right it’s: “good, well done”.

Each TEFL teacher has their own buzzword. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s positive and easy for students to understand. Some of the buzzwords that are commonly heard in a TEFL classroom are:


Well done




What will your buzzword be?