Teaching Tip 4: Monitoring

by | 04.10.2014


  • While students are doing an activity you walk slowly round the classroom and listen to their conversations. 
  • You can sit down too, if there are enough chairs, but try to sit in the background a bit or the students will direct their conversation to you. 
  • Look at one pair while actually listening to a different pair nearby. Correct the pair nearby (which will probably make them jump because they thought you were listening to the pair you were looking at) just to keep everyone on their toes – they never know when you’re listening to them so they can’t ever switch off or revert to their mother-tongue. 
  • Be ready to stop students monopolising conversations, to stop students falling out with each other and to offer encouragement and praise where appropriate. Listen and supervise.


  • If you spend your life in the classroom sitting down, this is your chance to stop numb-bum syndrome – get up and wander round. 
  • Monitoring gives you the opportunity to hear how the students are coping with the activity and to make notes about pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar points that are causing difficulty. I see the role as one of listener/supervisor/facilitator/encourager – not as one of error corrector. However you can do the correction once the activity has finished because if you do that while they are working you can’t monitor the other students properly and by the time you get back to monitoring you find that everyone has reverted to their mother tongue.

2 responses to “Teaching Tip 4: Monitoring”

  1. JoshM says:

    I remember a friend at the University of Illinois who would monitor student work–rather than conversations–and then pointing at students’ paper, “Hey, you should take a look at that again.” He’d say that even if he knew their answer was right just to get them to stay on task.

  2. Aleksandra says:

    I usually walk around the class with my adult learners and in my kids classes. Students need the teacher’s attention, they need to have that exercise right, they want to double check before reading it out aloud. They don’t like mistakes in fear of getting mocked or just having that look from their fellow students, “you’re wrong,I have that right”.

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