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Do you need feedback from a teacher? (Spoiler alert: No!)

Do you need feedback to improve your English? You might think that the ONLY way to improve is to have a teacher or person that can give you feedback and corrections on everything that you say. 

While having a teacher that can give you feedback is certainly valuable, you can absolutely improve without having a teacher or anyone to give you feedback when you practice!

Having a teacher give feedback can be a privilege that many people don’t have. You might feel that if you don’t get feedback, you’ll never be able to get to where you want to be. But that’s not the case at all!

In this video, I’ll talk about the pros and cons of receiving feedback, and how you can give yourself feedback – no teacher required!

Now I want to hear from you. Have you found a strategy to practice giving yourself feedback on your own? Do you have any tips for the rest of us? Let me know in the comments!

Check out the following videos:


Podcast intro:

Hey everyone, welcome to the InFluency Podcast. I’m Hadar, and this is episode number 358. Today we’re going to talk about feedback on your pronunciation, and if you really need it to succeed.

Hey, hey everyone, what is up? I hope you are well and happy and healthy. Thank you for coming back for another episode of this podcast, I’m honored. Today, we’re going to talk about feedback. We already know that feedback is important. I recently talked about it when I talked about learning on your own and why not having feedback can keep you stuck and can prevent you from advancing cause you might be repeating the same mistake without knowing that. So basically you’ll be building the pronunciation habits of a mispronunciation, God forbid. Not a big deal. Don’t worry about it. I’m just making it overly dramatic to catch your attention.

And now that I have your attention, I want to tell you that you can do really well without external feedback if you learn how to give yourself feedback. But it’s a method that you need to learn, and today I’m going to teach you how to do that. I’m going to give you some tips and strategies on how to give yourself feedback, how it is actually possible. I know it’s possible because this is what I’ve been teaching my students in my programs, and it has been highly successful. So I want to teach you that today. So pay attention, take a pen and a paper, but not if you’re driving, if you’re driving, then just come back to this episode and take notes after. And let’s get started.

Video transcript:

Do you really need feedback to improve your English? Or let me ask you this, is feedback the only way for you to break through and level up your English? The truth is that while getting feedback from a teacher or from someone who is very knowledgeable in English is an invaluable tool sometimes, it’s not the only way to understand your challenges and to improve.

Now, the reason why I’m making this video is because recently we conducted a challenge, a speaking challenge inside the InFluency community, our free community on Facebook. And in the challenge, people had to upload a video answering the question of the day. And at the beginning of the challenge, we were getting a lot of questions about how they could get feedback so they could actually improve and benefit from this challenge.

Now, I told them, listen, the free challenge doesn’t include feedback, and you can definitely benefit from it. But many people just decided not to participate in the challenge because they thought, what’s the point of posting a video or of speaking if I’m not going to get feedback. And I want to challenge this. Because while feedback is a great tool and a great opportunity to practice and level up, there is a lot that can happen for you without getting feedback that is not less important.

So in this video, we’re going to talk about the pros and cons of practicing with getting feedback. I’m going to give you some tips on how to practice when you don’t have someone to give you feedback, and I’m going to show you why it’s still extremely valuable. I’m also going to talk about how to work with feedback – so, maybe a way for you to guide your teacher on what’s the best way for you to get feedback. And finally, I’m going to share with you some online tools that will provide you with feedback, even without a teacher around. So let’s get started.

If you’re new to my channel, then hi, my name is Hadar Shemesh, I’m a non native speaker of English. And I am here to help you speak English with clarity, confidence, and freedom, and to be able to do it on your own, even without getting feedback. If you want to learn more with me and get a ton of free resources, check out my website at hadarshemesh.com or follow me on social media, where I share daily content to help you boost your pronunciation and confidence.

So let’s start with the pros of getting feedback. So, feedback is great because first, it draws awareness to areas that you were not aware of. So, for example, you might be making a repetitive mistake that you didn’t even know was a mistake, because maybe you haven’t learned that tense, or you haven’t implemented it just yet. Or maybe you were using a word in the wrong context, and then by getting the feedback, you were able to learn that this word is used differently. So, this is extremely valuable.

Also, sometimes what happens is that we know a concept, or we know a specific sound, or we know a specific grammatical structure, but we don’t use it, and we think we do, but the mouth does a completely different thing. So, you might be speaking about someone, a woman, and you might say ‘he’, but you know it’s a ‘she’. But again, like you weren’t aware of it. So sometimes a teacher who gives you feedback might draw your attention to the fact that you’re still doing this, or that you’re pronouncing something in a way that you thought you have changed, but you haven’t yet. Right? So this is why feedback is extremely valuable.

Feedback is also good because it gives you confidence and, you know, it’s a way to remind you that you are on track and, you know, you know what you’re doing. And it’s good to get this validation from someone that you appreciate or that you value their opinion. So these were the pros.

Now let’s talk about the cons. What are the dangers or the risks when working with feedback? Well, first: sometimes you might be making a mistake and you would get this feedback that this was a mistake, but you wouldn’t be at a place where you can actually implement it and put it into practice.

So you hear it, you might get distracted by it. You might get self conscious about it, but in your language learning stage, it’s still too soon for you to start integrating it into your normal speech. You know, when I studied linguistics, we learned language acquisition theories. And there, it said that children usually have stages in their language acquisition journey.

And sometimes when you try to correct a child on a grammatical mistake, if they haven’t evolved to the next stage, it would be really, really hard/impossible for them to actually correct themselves based on your feedback or correction.

So this is why a child might say, “I sleeped last night” instead of, “I slept last night”, not using the irregular verb. And the parent might correct them, “No, I slept”, but in their brain, they’re still applying the rule of just adding the ED suffix, right? So, it would be hard for them to understand that there are these irregular verbs. And they might repeat the mistake until they reach the next stage.

I believe that when learning a second language as an adult, it’s the same thing. If you’re still struggling with, let’s say, basic tenses, and you get this correction on perfect tenses, or future perfect tenses, or tenses that you’re not even aware of, you are less likely to start implementing it immediately or consistently in your speech because you’re not there yet. So, you get the feedback, but you don’t know what to do with it, or it’s really hard for you to actually put it into practice.

Another reason why sometimes it’s not ideal to get feedback is because sometimes just the act of speaking is what you need to practice – freely, without feeling evaluated because our performance changes the moment we know that someone is listening to us and looking for mistakes. Because when we know that, then we’re probably less likely to feel as free and as fluent.

So when you’re removing the feedback aspect, it gives you more freedom and more flexibility in the language, knowing that you might be making mistakes, but at least you’ll deliver your message. Which sometimes that’s what matters, that’s what you want to practice. So, having feedback may prevent you from having that sense of flow and freedom. It can make you feel self conscious, critical of yourself, and distracted.

One more thing about feedback: knowing what you’re doing wrong is good, but you’re not going to be able to change it unless you put it into practice. And you can’t put into practice all the mistakes that you’re making or all the corrections. You need to focus on something very, very specific to be able to put it into practice. And let’s say you tend to say ‘have’ instead of ‘has’. So, you get the feedback, great, you’re aware of it, but how do you turn it into a new habit? The only way to do it is by repeating it intentionally again and again, and using it correctly again and again. So, getting feedback is great, but if you don’t do something about it, it might just create more and more frustration, because you know about what you need to do, but you’re unable to actually use it.

And the last and very obvious thing about why feedback is not always ideal is because it’s hard to get. You need a teacher and you need to pay a teacher, or you need to have someone who actually wants to have a conversation and give you feedback. And usually people who want to have a conversation with you, just want to have a conversation with you, they don’t want to correct you.

So sometimes it’s just, you don’t have access to people who are willing to give you feedback. And does that mean that it’s the only way to practice, and unless you get feedback, there is no point in practicing? No! Because you have a lot of time on your own that you can use to practice even without feedback.

So, now that we talked about the advantages and disadvantages of practicing with feedback, let’s talk about the advantages of practicing without feedback. So like I said, you can do it on your own. It can help you build flow and confidence in speaking without interruption. It will help you be resourceful and creative, connecting with people, finding resources online, so you become stronger and in more ownership as a learner. And that is a valuable thing.

And finally, it teaches you to give yourself feedback, to start listening to yourself in a critical way, and start recognizing the things that are good, and the things where you might be repeating mistakes, whether it’s pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, so on and so forth. And when you’re able to give yourself feedback, you are so much more in control of your own English and your own learning journey. I have a few videos that talk about how you can give yourself feedback, so I’m going to link them in the description below.

Finally, if you are on your own and you still want to get feedback, I’m going to share with you three ways to actually get feedback. One is to practice, record yourself, and listen back to it. You remember when I told you about the mistakes that you make, even though you know you’re not supposed to make those mistakes? You will hear those mistakes when listening to your recordings. So, you can improve that by listening to your recordings, pointing out the mistakes, and then repeating speaking about it, and then trying to avoid the mistakes that you’ve made before. So this is one way.

Another way, especially if you want to improve your pronunciation, is speech to text, where you record yourself and then you see whatever you recorded is written. You have it in your Notes app, sometimes on Google Docs, whatever phone or computer you’re using. And you will see that if you say a word and it detects a different word, it’s an indication that the word was mispronounced.

The same thing if you speak to Siri or Google Assistant, you know, if you say something and you recognize that the machine hasn’t detected what you said, then maybe something there was not clear, and that is an indication that you need to practice it. So that’s the feedback, even without having a person telling you exactly what you need to improve.

And finally, there is ChatGPT that can help you with feedback on your grammar or your vocabulary, especially when it comes to writing. So, you can write a text, or you can speak and then transcribe it, and then you can submit it to ChatGPT and ask it to correct your grammar. And then you can actually get clear feedback on what was incorrect or if there were better ways to say certain words or certain phrases. ChatGPT is a free AI language model, and I have an entire video teaching you how you can use that to improve your English and to get feedback. So, another way that is absolutely free that you can get feedback on your English, and it’s available to you 24/7.

Now, if you do work with a teacher and the teacher is available to give you feedback, or maybe a spouse or a child or a friend, here’s what I highly recommend. Make sure that A) you don’t get feedback on every single mistake. If you get feedback on everything, it could be very overwhelming, you’re less likely to remember everything, and it’s going to make you feel discouraged.

So make sure that you tell the person giving you feedback, “Tell me the most important things that stuck out while I was speaking. Not everything, but maybe the mispronunciations that got me to sound completely unclear, or a very, very noticeable grammatical mistake, or a word that I absolutely used incorrectly.” Right? So, make sure that they prioritize their feedback, so you would actually be able to do something with it that is productive.

Another thing is that try to ask them not to interrupt you, and give you feedback after you complete a thought or a sentence. Because if you start speaking and then you get feedback on every other word, it could be very, very distracting, and then you would completely lose track of what it is that you’re saying. So, priority and also allowing flow and giving you feedback at the end. I think this is so incredibly important.

And if the person you’re working with – if you are, who gives you feedback – does it in a different way, then maybe it’s an opportunity to have a conversation about it to make sure that you’re getting what you need and to make the best out of this feedback session.

All right, that’s it. Now, I’m curious to hear, how do you feel about feedback? And more specifically, what are your thoughts about practicing English without feedback? Are you against it? Are you in favor of it? Do you tend to practice on your own? What resourceful creative solutions have you found for practice, if you generally don’t get feedback on your English? Let me know in the comments below. I cannot wait to read your answers.

That’s it for today. Make sure to follow me and hit subscribe. If you want to learn more with me, you can also follow me on social media for daily pronunciation lessons. Remember that making mistakes is not a bad thing. Mistakes are an essential part of learning a second language and the only way to learn. Okay? Have a great day and I’ll see you next week in the next video.

Podcast outro:

All right, that’s it. Thank you so much for listening to this podcast. I’m happy that you were able to listen to it all the way until the end. And if you enjoyed it, I would really appreciate it if you could take a minute to rate and review the podcast on your favorite platform, because it really does help the podcast get heard more by people who need it.

So, if you can take two minutes out of your time – last time I said 90 seconds, could be 90 seconds, could be two minutes – and write a few words about this podcast, but if not, you can just rate it, that’s great too. All right, my loves, have a beautiful, beautiful day. And I’ll be here with you soon.

The InFluency Podcast
The InFluency Podcast
358. Do you really need feedback to improve? The answer might surprise you

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9 Responses

  1. thank you for your explanations and your advice. I don’t have any feedback , i’m a lonely learner , and that’s it good . I never learned english during my studies , what i know i learned it on Youtube , following courses taught by people like you , and i thank you very much for what you do

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  4. Thank you ma, I’m very grateful for your explanations about feedback.
    I don’t have any feedback.
    But that practice makes perfect.

  5. A Significant Issue in an Otherwise Excellent Video
    There’s a significant problem in the excellent video. You missed mentioning “parenting.” It’s vital, though not widely recognized. In our small learning community, we focus a great deal on parenting (and nurturing “parents”). We blend self-guided learning (as demonstrated effectively in the video – utilizing technology) with occasional guidance from external tutors (as you also noted).

  6. Hello my lovely teacher Hadar,
    It’s a great teaching ever . Sure , English learning is really need feet back from the teacher or from anyone who is high level than , in order to improve our English language,we need to practice and practice it again and again to build the confidence and fluently in speaking, I’m believing on compliment it daily life and brush up it all of the time . It really work it out within yourself exactly.feedback is really help us improve and self-confidence . English learner without feedback is not trusted in yourself and not stronger than who are under feedback from someone with high level.thanks

  7. Hi Hadar !
    You know much better than me, that anyone’s way of using a language is strongly determined by her/his socio-medical-psychological status. I’m 88, living with a seriously sick wife and with my own post-Covide syndrome. Nevertheless, I like the English very much and like to use it. But I don’t care too much on its correctness. I only put emphasis on how it is sensitive to convey my ideas. So, I need understanding as feedback more than improving my grammatical mistakes.

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