Month: Sep 2017

My LTSIG Talk: Using Multimodal Learner-Driven Feedback to Provide Sustainable Feedback on L2 Writing

My LTSIG Talk: Using Multimodal Learner-Driven Feedback to Provide Sustainable Feedback on L2 Writing

Time for a little advertising! 😉

On October Thursday 5th October at 4.25pm UK time, I’ll be giving an online talk as part of the LTSIG /OllREN online conference and would be delighted to see you there!

LTSIG Presentation Clare Maas

Exploring efficient ways to give sustainable feedback on L2 writing is important because providing meticulous correction of language errors and hand-written summaries can be time-consuming and often seems less effective than desired. For feedback to be sustainable (i.e. effective long-term), it should be formative, interactive and impact on students’ future work (Carless et al 2011). Thus traditional, hand-written feedback practices may be inefficient at effecting sustainability. Integrating technology into feedback delivery has been shown to have potential in alleviating the situation, by stimulating students to engage with feedback they receive and enabling dialogues about their work.

Combining work into feedback on L2 writing with ideas promoted in higher education, I devised the Learner-Driven Feedback (LDF) procedure, where feedback is given by the teacher, but learners ‘drive’ how and on what they receive feedback: they can choose between various digital delivery modes and are required to pose questions about their work to which the tutor responds.

In this talk, I will summarise some recent literature which supports both the use of technologies such as email, audio recording, and text-editing software features, and responses to students’ individual queries in feedback procedures, before practically demonstrating LDF. I will refer to my own recently published article on LDF in EAP, and discuss my evaluation of its application in my teaching, providing compelling reasons and practical suggestions for its employment in various language teaching contexts. These discussions will also explore potential mechanisms underpinning the efficacy of multimodal approaches to making feedback more sustainable, in order to further aid teachers in making informed choices pertaining to their specific class groups. This includes topics such as learner autonomy, motivation, receptivity, learner-centredness and individualisation.

The talk is thus a combination of practical demonstration and theoretical background, of interest and relevance to a broad audience.


Reference: Carless, D., Salter, D., Yang, M., Lam, J., 2011. Developing sustainable
feedback practices. Studies in Higher Education, 36, 395–407.

Who can help with my to-do list?

Who can help with my to-do list?

There seem to be a flurry of posts at the moment on how people are feeling, what they’re thinking, what’s going on in their lives. Maybe these posts are people sneakily trying to hit the record of 15 posts in a month set by Hana Ticha (See: #hanachallenge !). But people also often say that blogging is cathartic and can help clarify your thoughts. So here I am …. giving it a go… and I have some tricky to-dos that you can maybe help me with. 


I’m pleased to say I finished my marking from last semester! So now I’m on to planning my 8 classes for next semester, to start mid-October. For most things I’ll carry over the general outline from last year. But for the first-semester students it’s hard to plan because we don’t know how many we’re going to have! And, all of my British cultural studies textbooks are now out of date, thanks to the recent referendum and election. Don’t suppose anyone has any resources at C1 level about recent British politics??


I’ve recently been elected to the MaWSIG committee as a Joint Events Coordinator. Two of us were new to the team, and we’ve really hit the ground running. So far, I’ve been involved in setting up a competition (running now!) and organising a MaWSIG Strand at the TESOL Spain convention (March 2018). Maybe you guys can all join in to make it really worth our while organising?! We’re also in the midst of planning our PCE for Brighton, and there are two other conferences in the pipeline. I’m loving my new role, but it does involve quite a lot of emails and Skype meetings!


I write for an EFL learners magazine and am responsible for the collocations pages. The basic set-up is that we choose two words that are often confused, and show and practice collocations that go with them. For example step/stair, make/do, say/tell. The thing is that I always need two words with about 8 collocations each, which can all be easily visualised, haven’t been covered recently, and lend themselves to written exercises. If you have any ideas, please do let me know!

I’m also writing a piece for a TA’s newsletter about teaching EAP in Germany. I’m a bit worried that what I’m writing makes sense to me, an insider, but won’t be clear or interesting to anyone outside the EAP-in-Germany world. If you were going to read an article like this, what would you be interested in finding out?


I got a bit overly inspired at the beginning of the year and sent off a bunch of proposals to talk at conferences or give webinars. I’m pleased that several of them were accepted, but now I’m trying to juggle writing summaries, creating slides, and booking travel to various events. Actually, there’s not much you can do to help me on this. But if you do see me at a conference in the next 6 months, maybe congratulate me on having made it and given the right presentation in the right place…!

Life Admin

I go through phases of looking ahead in my diary and buying birthday cards, but recently I’ve been a bit lax about posting them on time. I need to get on top of this, especially for international posting! I definitely need to sort my things out before Christmas! How long does a letter take from Germany to the USA?


I really am motivated to blog more. But I don’t really have many great ideas that I think people would be interested in reading about. The #hanachallenge is a cool idea, but I don’t want to post stuff just for the sake of it. Please send inspiration!

Why and How to get more involved with an IATEFL SIG

Why and How to get more involved with an IATEFL SIG

When you join IATEFL, you get a choice of 16 Special Interest Groups (SIGs) you can choose from within your standard membership. These SIGs provide members with opportunities for professional development in specialised areas. For a long time, I was ‘just’ a member of a SIG. I even swapped SIGs a few times when I renewed my membership. But more recently, I have come to realise that just joining up and reading the SIG’s newsletters is not really making the most of my membership! Getting more actively involved can open the door to new ways to network and share knowledge on that area of ELT – the heart of what IATEFL is there for. Although this sounds like an advert, really the target audience of this post are already IATEFL members, so I’m not trying to convince you to spend money and join something new, but I’d like to share some ways I have made a bit more out of my SIG membership, and maybe inspire you to do the same!

Webinars: IATEFL and the SIGs organise regular, free webinars and online talks by experts on a wide range of topics. These usually last for just one hour, which for me usually fits quite nicely into my schedule. I’ve learnt new things from these webinars, even when I thought I already knew quite a lot about the topic! Also, I’ve noticed that I recognise the names of people who attend the same webinars as me, which has opened up a connection for us to be in touch more often (usually on social media) beyond the webinar setting. The list of upcoming webinars can be found on IATEFL’s website: here.

Blogs: Most SIGs have a blog section on their website where you can read guest posts by various SIG members. I’ve volunteered a couple of posts, mainly because I had some ideas relevant to the area of ‘special interest’ and wanted to share and discuss them with SIG members. In my experience, the SIGs are very happy to find people willing to contribute a blog post, so do get in touch with the committee if you have an idea. Also, some SIGs look for ‘roving reporters’ to blog about their experiences at SIG events, so if you’re going to one, ask the SIG committee about that opportunity, too! I’ve not done that yet, but it sounds like an easy and fun way to contribute!

Competitions: Some SIGs host competitions on various themes relevant to their ‘special interest’. Often, competition entries will be posted on their website, and you could win a ticket to one of their events or other prizes relevant to the theme. I’ve only entered one competition so far and I found it much easier than writing, for example, a scholarship application, but still very inspiring for my own work! These competitions are usually publicised on the SIGS’ websites and on social media, and I think they’re a nice starting point for someone who wants to get involved a bit more but can’t commit much time.

Meetups: These are local, informal events where members of a SIG and those interested in becoming members get together for a coffee / glass of something cool and a chat. If you find out about one near you (they’re usually advertised on the SIG’s website and on social media) then I’d definitely recommend going along! I’ve found them to be a great way to meet people I have professional interests in common with, in a cosy, friendly setting. Or, if there don’t seem to be any near you, then volunteer to organise one yourself! (That’s what I did  😉 ) Just contact one of the SIG’s events coordinators to get the ball rolling, and you’ll see it’s an easy way to get involved and give something back to the IATEFL community!

Social media: Most SIGs have groups and/or accounts on popular social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter, and some also have discussion lists. I’m in a couple of the Facebook groups and follow several SIGs on Twitter. Twitter is a great way to find out about upcoming events, competitions, etc. And on Facebook there is more scope of discussion; if I have a problem or question about something I’m working on, I’ve found I often get help in the relevant Facebook group really quickly! These are great spaces for finding support and colleagues with similar interests. And ‘meeting’ people on social media means you have people to grab a coffee with at face-to-face events, if you’re worried about not knowing anyone. (Note: for this to work you need to have a recognisable profile photo!)

Conferences: Alongside hosting a SIG Day at the annual IATEFL conference, and a PCE (pre-conference event) the day before the main conference, most SIGs organise or co-host other smaller conference-type events throughout the year. You can find these by looking at the SIG’s website, where you’ll usually find information about how to register and also submit a proposal to give a talk or present a poster, etc. For me, it is often easier to fit in these shorter events than a whole week at the annual conference, and they’re often a bit easier on the budget, too! I’ve also found networking easier at these smaller face-to-face events, and they’re a perfect opportunity to talk to SIG committee members about how else you could get involved.


As a closing point, I should probably tell you that I have recently been elected to the committee of a SIG (yay!), so I’m taking my involvement to the next level. But the aim of this post is not to advertise just one SIG (which is why I haven’t mentioned which one I’m in 😉 ) but just to show how much more IATEFL members can get out of whichever SIG they have chosen to join! I hope you feel motivated and inspired, and look forward to hearing about your future SIG involvements!!