Checking Understanding

checking understanding to avoid confusion
Checking understanding is an essential ingredient to a smooth running class and successfully completed activities

We’ve all done it – told a class explicitly how to do an activity or complete a task, they all go away to do it, and low and behold they’re doing it wrong or don’t understand. Hopefully your instructions were clear, particularly if you’ve read our guide on giving instructions, but everyone is human and misunderstanding occur. Here’s where we need to think about checking understanding.

Checking Understanding

If you have done a CELTA or have been teaching for a bit you will have come across the letters ICQ or instruction checking questions. They are simple questions which can be used to clarify that students understand what is expected of them. It’s also a second opportunity to tell students, who weren’t listening, what to do.

Asking if students understand is pointless, most students will say yes, if only to save their own embarrassment. But checking understanding should only be done if necessary, not just for the sake of it. If it is clear that the majority of the students understand instructions, don’t bother checking understanding, just monitor and help out the stragglers.

Have a Plan

Reading around the internet, ICQ’s can sometimes throw up some weird  language, so it’s probably a cunning plan to have a think before you class and write some ICQ’s into your lesson plan beforehand, rather than thinking on the spot.

Dan has been teaching English overseas for more than six years. He specialises in teaching young learners and has experience in teaching in the UK, South Korea and Thailand.