Hugh’s 2 minute videos

Nominating students – what do you think? The discussion around the table certainly highlighted some concerns about whether not nominating at all took into account the cultural differences in a multilingal class.  We might also consider both gender and age differences.

For instance, a female student in a class full of loud, young men might feel too intimidated to shout out, even more so if she came from a culture where that practice would be seen as unusual.

I think the conclusion around the table suggested that there was a time for both – nominating and free for alls. In feedback on exercises nominating can be time consuming and often unnecessary as there are alternatives to teacher-led feedback. In other situations it still has a place. I wouldn’t suggest risking a no nominating lesson during a Celta or Delta observed lesson, not unless you can back it up as well as Hugh does.

Hugh Dellar shares some more pearls of wisdom here. If you only watch one, I’d recommend the round up one but worth watching them all.


5 thoughts on “Hugh’s 2 minute videos

  1. Thanks for bothering to watch the videos. Delighted to see they seem to have sparked some kind of discussion with you all, which is always a good thing imho.

    I think the issue of a quieter woman in a class of pushy lads is an interesting one – albeit a fairly specific one – and I guess one that may well just require a teacher asking for answers from the whole group to be aware of the fact the woman may well have ideas / answers (by reading the faces in the room) and to say something along the lines: “OK. OK. You lot have had your say. Let someone else speak for a minute. Kasia? You look like you wanted to say something.”

    Is that nomination? Or is that simply being sensitive to context and acting / adapting accordingly?

    By the way, I never meant to suggest that nominating students should in some way be banned or is by default bad practice. It’s obviously quite possible for it to be done well and to serve real practical classroom functions on occasion.

    Where I have issues is in the idea that it HAS TO be done – and also in the fact that I’ve so often seen it down badly: in a time-consuming, plodding way and in a way that also often puts undue pressures on quieter / shyer students, which in turn often exacerbates the frustrations (and magnifies the stereotypes) of more vocal learners.

    By the way, if you didn’t know already, I post regular further thoughts on language and teaching over at


  2. I think we’re in agreement about ‘being sensitive to context’ rather than applying the ‘do it this way because this is right’ approach. In the case of feedback, I advise Celta/Delta candidates to try to let their monitoring inform their feedback, so that students’ answers aren’t a great surprise to the teacher. This way, you can take the opportunity to nominate the shy student when you know she/he will give a correct answer and will feel good about it. If monitoring has shown a variety of interesting and different answers or ideas, then a free approach will probably work well, especially if you invite other students to comment – ‘Do you agree? Does anyone have a different answer?’ etc. Quite often, I hand over the nomination in feedback to the students themselves. I like to see students learning and using each others’ names because it really seems to help with s-s rapport.


    • Interesting stuff Jill.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Obviously, if you have monitored and seen Student X has question 1 right, then it’s no bad thing to ask them directly for the answer, though even in those circumstances, I’ve often seen Student X be reticent or shy or even unwilling to volunteer the answer, possibly because they’re not sure whether they’re being asked because they have the right answer or the wrong one, possibly just because they don’t like being in the limelight and are happier with other shouting out the answers and just knowing they got things right. This isn’t to say don’t ever do it; just to say that it’s not always a solution and can sometimes lead to further issues. What with the world being complex and all!

      I’ve personally always hated “Do you all agree?” or “Does anyone have a different answer?” myself, by the way, especially if the teacher is eliciting answers to things that actually have a right / wrong answer. If you get the right answer, say so – and then paraphrase and add to what was said so that the whole class hear. If it’s correct, why bother with the does everyone agree game? I just don’t see what’s gained and suspect many students find it confusing.

      If the answer is not correct, say so – or say not quite. Ask the class again to see if anyone else has it. If they do, repeat the above. if they don’t, don’t wait too long and just give it to them.

      I much prefer to see time spent during round-up of answers on the teacher actually doing some teaching and adding to what students already know,m explaining things clearly, giving extra examples, etc. rather than playing methodological games.

      But that may just be me, of course. 🙂


  3. I have to say, if I’m honest, that I’m not always happy with my feedback. Sometimes it feels as if I’ve checked the answers but could have developed a certain point more and added to the exercise, helped the students notice/gain something else.

    In the case of nominating, I think one possible solution might be to ask the students how they feel. Ok, they’re not teachers and may not always know what is best for them (but do we?), but I think it’s good to know our students’ views and give them a little autonomy. This is probably easier at higher levels where you can have this kind of discussion – I might broach the subject tomorrow with my upper-int class. Here’s a thought, we could give students coloured cards – red-I don’t want to answer -green – I’m ready to have a go. Might also be good in my lower level class where all the guys shout out 5 answers each, with the hope that one may be right.


    • Hi Rachel –
      I think that in many ways we’re getting closer to the heart of the matter here, and that is that really how you get answers from students is far less important than what you do next. One of the things that always annoyed me about such oft-heard sweeping statements as “I don’t like just working my way through a coursebook” is that there’s an assumption that using a coursebook is ONE thing, whereas in reality it is many, many different things, and something as simply – yet fundamental – as going through an exercise can he handled in tons of different ways, some (I’d argue) much better and more fruitful than others.

      I’d personally like to see much more TD geared towards this kind of angle: using coursebooks better; what we do when we go through exercises, how we do it and why, etc. Much more conducive to long-term improvement that learning a few more methodological tricks. In essence, going through the answers is when much of the real teaching can / should occur, as it’s one of the key moment where the teacher has the clearest chance to work from where students are currently at and expand outwards.

      By the way, have you seen a section we’ve set up over on our website, that gives ideas on things like this?
      If you have any particular exercise you’ve been through in class recently that you’d like extra thoughts on, we’d love to see it. Email it over to:

      What else? Oh yes, the nominating thing . . . by asking the whole class for an answer, you are basically already asking who feels like answering and who doesn’t, without the need for statements of emotion or cards! If some of the more vocal lads start shouting out multiple answers, make polite fun of them (“What? Are you going to keep shouting out every single word you’ve ever heard in the hope that some of them are right?! You’ve had your 87 guesses – and they were all wrong, so someone else’s turn!”) and take control.


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