The other day I made a mistake. 

I used a ‘non-PC’ image in one of my posts, accidentally depicting animal cruelty. And then I got this beautiful message from a friend of mine.

“Hi Fatime, 

Hope all is well with you. I love your dog images on all your posts – wish I was half as prolific as you in terms of output! 

However, I hope you don’t mind me pointing out that the most recent one (snackable IELTS, with the cute bully breed) shows a prong collar. These are pretty cruel in my opinion and best not shown on social media. 

Sorry if I’m speaking out of turn. I have recently chucked out a load of my own flyers because they contain the phrase ‘driving you mad’. Make of that what you will! I just wanted to share my thoughts. 

All the best and hope life in the US is treating you well”

With my friend’s permission I’m sharing this story here, because I think her message is a textbook example of what excellent FEEDBACK should feel (read, sound, look) like to the recipient.

It is fantastic because

• it starts with WHAT’S ‘WORKING’

• continues with a tactful HEADS UP before mentioning the issue

• states the issue CLEARLY and unambiguously

• mentions a PERSONAL EXAMPLE of a time when she made a similar mistake

• respectfully recommends that I either TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT

All of these ‘components’ made me feel like she’s calling me ‘IN’ –as opposed to ‘out’ –especially as she sent this message in private.

If we accidentally humiliate a learner at the get go when trying to offer a suggestion, chances are this will only activate their defenses, and probably even make them dig in their heels more, undermine our credibility, or even sully the relationship going forward.

I’m sure my friend is an AMAZING teacher, as she instinctively knows all this already.

What’s YOUR tip-top tip on how to give feedback?

(BTW, I’ve since replaced the image! <3 Because I do listen to GOOD feedback that’s spot on both in terms of CONTENT and DELIVERY).

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Hi. I’m Fatime. I’m an IELTS Teacher Trainer, helping CELTA-qualified English language teachers become better at teaching SKILLS, as opposed to just testing them. 

Check out my courses here:

How to Teach IELTS Listening:

How to Teach IELTS Reading:

How to Teach IELTS Writing:

How to Teach IELTS Speaking: