5 Oral Learning Response Strategies for ESL Classrooms –

Contributed by Aziz Ghannaj

It goes without saying that feedback is an essential concept of language learning because it has a place in “second language (L2) education and most theories of language pedagogy” (Ellis, 2009).

It should be used to improve learning in an ESL classroom. Interestingly, verbal feedback is the most frequent response in a language classroom because it is primarily introduced by teachers. In this article, I will define the verbal response and describe its different types as well as some of its techniques.


What is EFL? EFL is the teaching of English as a foreign language for a non-native English speaker

What is ESL? ESL is similar to EFL but specifically refers to teaching English as a second language (although the EFL does not require that English be a ‘second’ language – in fact, both terms are often used interchangeably).

Verbal feedback or verbal feedback plays an important role in language learning and learning. It is part and parcel of the interaction between teachers and students in every learning environment. It can be defined as “information provided by students that they can use to correct their interlinguism” (Ellis, 1999). For intelligence, EFL students often resort to their L1 to grasp a rule or to understand some linguistic subject; And in doing so they make mistakes in the target language.

See more 20 effective learning response strategies

Thus, it is here that verbal feedback comes to provide students with immediate and instant guidance throughout their learning process. Furthermore, Khairani and Refinaldi believe that “verbal feedback is the teacher’s response to student performance in the teaching and learning process” (2020) and this response usually clears up misconceptions for students and will ultimately lead to their learning. All in all, verbal feedback is considered as the essence of interaction between teachers and students.

Verbal responses can be evaluative, corrective, descriptive or motivational. Initially, evaluative feedback involves judging students’ performance or work value. These judgments can take the form of grade or short general comments during class. Furthermore, while developing a typology for evaluation, Tunstall and Gipps (1996) categorized evaluative responses into rewards, punishments, approvals, and denials. Evaluative feedback, however, does not provide students with detailed and specific information to improve their learning. Corrective response, as the name implies, usually takes the form of a student’s pronunciation response with a linguistic error (Ellis, 2009).

Accordingly, a teacher needs to correct students’ mistakes which indicate a problem in the field of skills; Don’t be mistaken that students may be due to poor performance. For Ellis, a student’s response to the error first indicates the error, the second provides the correct target language form, and the third explains the nature of the error. As far as the descriptive response is concerned, it is “specific information about students’ strengths and weaknesses and improvement strategies” (Hargreaves, McCallum and Gips (2000)). In other words, such feedback describes the student’s current achievement and compares it to the expected outcome so that students understand what they need to improve.

After all, motivational feedback is just as important as the kind of feedback mentioned above because it is used to charge students for doing well. According to Mackiewicz & Thompson (2013), “motivational feedback encourages students to learn”. This encouragement can take the form of praise, expression of sympathy, or empathy.

Teachers consciously or subconsciously use a variety of techniques to respond verbally. In a study published in 1997, Lister. R and L. Ranta distinguish five frequent techniques used by teachers to correct students’ mistakes.

1. Explicit correction It involves identifying the errors made by the student and then providing the correct form. The correct form provision is expressed.

Students: “I read English on Monday”

Teacher: “We say On monday “

2. Requests EFL is very frequent in the classroom because they change the wrong form with the correct answer of the students. Student pronunciation reform, however, is inherently recommended by the Communicative Language Teaching Approach. An example of a request would be:

Students: “He speaks English”

Teacher: “Yeah right, he speaks English”

3. Clarification request Used to show a student’s lack of understanding of pronunciation. It can also be used to imply that what students have said is wrong and they need to repeat it correctly.

Students: “We are studying now”

Teacher: “Sorry.”

Student: “We are studying now”

4. Metallurgical reactions When the teacher explains the nature of the error by commenting on it or asking students questions about it. The teacher should not provide the correct form to the students but let them discover it for themselves.

Students: “We went to the movies yesterday”

Teacher: “There is a mistake here… .. Is the verb ‘go’ regular or irregular? “

Student: “Irregular”

Teacher: So, what do we say?

Student: We went to see a movie yesterday.

5. Get out The last verbal response strategy we will discuss in this article. It refers to the methods that teachers use to draw students’ attention to the wrong part of their pronunciation. By doing this, the teacher “repeats the part of the student’s pronunciation but not the wrong part and uses increasing vowel signals that the student should complete it” (Ellis, 2009).

Students: “The boy is eating apples”

Teacher: “Apple Hall.”

Student: “The boy ate the apple”

Note that all of the above examples are inspired by my classroom practice.

Above all, teachers need to be aware of the verbal response strategies mentioned above so that they can effectively help students improve and bridge the gap between current performance and the desired.

In conclusion, no one can deny that verbal feedback is important for the learning-teaching process. Teachers around the world believe that without constructive and timely feedback, students may get lost in the handiwork that hinders them from achieving their learning goals. I personally believe that we still have a long way to go in investigating the ‘reaction’ in the EFL classroom.

Teachers are invited to reflect on their practice and to find out which verbal response strategies are the most and which are the least. Hence, it can have a powerful effect on both learning and teaching, and can make the teacher’s response to students’ pronunciation concise, precise and purpose-based.


Alice, R. 2009. Correctional Response and Teacher Development. L2 Journal, 1 (1), 3-18. Gipps, C., McCallum, B., & Hargreaves, E. (2000).

What makes a good elementary school teacher? Expert classroom strategy. London: Routledge Falmer. Khairani, I & Refnaldi, R. (2020).

Verbal Feedback of English Teachers Journal of English Language Teaching Volume 9 No. 1. Lister, R., et al. Ranta. (1997). Corrective Feedback and Student Acceptance: Discussion of forms in the communicative classroom. The study of second language acquisition, 1937-66.

Mackiewicz, J. & Thompson, I. 2013. Motivational scaffolding, politeness, and writing center tutoring. The Writing Center Journal, 33 (1), 38-73.

Tunstall, P., & Gipps, C. (1996). Teacher’s response to young children in constructive assessment: a typology. British Educational Research Journal, 22 (4), 389–404.