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Out of the box: Time Granny went to the hairdresser?


Language school feedback surveys may be asking the wrong questions

When language schools hand out questionnaires to EFL students at the end of their courses, it suggests that the school values their opinions about the teaching they have received.

And indeed, the school can demonstrate its genuine respect for student needs and wishes if the questionnaires are given out at regular intervals and the feedback is acted on.

But this has not been my experience in most of the schools in the UK I have worked at or led training sessions in.

In many places the first satisfaction questionnaire to be placed before students comes on the last day of the course. Does this mean it has nothing to do with students and is exclusively for the benefit of the school’s marketing dept and the overseas agents who supply a flow of clients?

Do typical UK EFL student questionnaires ask students about the factors that are likely to affect their learning? What about the role of the host family? For some students this has been central in their progress in the language.

“Do typical UK EFL student questionnaires ask student s about the role of the host family in their language learning? ”

Do typical questionnaires ask the students about their state of mind and heart during the course? How often have they been bored in class? When have they felt themselves to be the most creative and awake? How have they found the food? How have they coped with those aspects of UK culture that may at first have seemed outlandish?

Do standard questionnaires ask how students created their own learning? Do our questions elicit a self-examination by students of their learning processes, or simply ask them babyish questions about how well or badly they feel we teachers did?

I would suggest that what we ask them is typical of most consumerist questionnaires that treat their responders as if they had no imagination, intellect or creativity.

In a posh hotel have you ever been asked to express your real feelings about the place?

The end of course questionnaire is like Granny’s hair-do.

We‘ve known it for years and it is comfortingly familiar.

But maybe it’s time Granny went to the hairdresser?

Mario Rinvolucri, a Pilgrims associate, is author of Grammar Games, and co-author of Once upon a Time, written with John Morgan.