Teaching students in groups is very common in most classrooms. If the group is fifteen or forty they still have the same needs and problems that all students have. Teaching groups is a very large topic so this essay will concentrate on a few certain topics that will be based on research and the experiences that I have encountered while teaching English to large groups. I will concentrate on three areas the first is using choral repetition as to encourage students to use English. The second will be concentrating on using group work to help all students to contribute to the class and the last is limiting the use of the native tongue while doing group work.
Some students do not have the confidence to participate in class, due to many reasons, so Choral repetition helps to produce student confidence and participation. Whether it is used to practice vocabulary, dialogue or new grammatical structures choral repetition takes the emphasis off the individual and helps all students to present in a large group classroom. It is also good for hearing mistakes in large groups, as Sue Swift states ?If the group is together and one student is pronouncing something wrong, you&acute;ll hear it. If they&acute;re all at different points in the sentence, you won&acute;t.? This helps to develop a level of English quicker and gives the teacher the ability to fix mistakes that can not be managed by individually speaking to all members of a class in a large group situation.
Through the use of group work all class members can contribute and learn when teaching large groups of students. When the teacher is controlling and teaching students who sometimes don?t have the greatest confidence in their English ability will not contribute. They may not want to look bad in front of the students or the teachers but for what ever the reason group work helps to eliminate this problem, as stated by Simon Andrewes ?Thanks to group work, less confident students get the chance to put their knowledge of the new language into practice in a non-threatening environment, away from the critical eye and ear of the teacher.? Group work can be a great asset to the native teacher who is working with large groups. Not only can group work make it easier for everyone to contribute but it can also breed confidence into new learners.
When English students are participating in group work they sometimes revert back to their native language. Though, this may seem to be a negative factor it is actually just a way for the students to converse more deeply about the topic or activity they are completing. As Fiona Lawtie states ?Also, be aware of the fact that some students especially beginners, will often use their L1 as an emotional support at first, translating everything word for word to check they have understood the task before attempting to speak.? It can also be so the students make sure they present in proper English so that they don?t look stupid in front of the other students. It students are using too much of there native tongue it could be because the active is too easy, not relevant or boring so teachers must make sure they know their students well so this is avoided.
Teaching large groups can be made easy if you adapt the right teaching activities. Through using choral repetition all class members can not only contribute to the class but the teacher can also correct basic fundamental mistakes in pronunciation, which can not always be done on an individual basis due to time constraints and group size . The teacher can also use group work effectively to give students the confidence to contribute with out the pressure of having to perform in front of the class or the teacher. It also enables every student to practice English in large classes effectively. The use of the student?s native is not always negative sometime students revert to it so they can make sure there group work is correct, at other times it is a reminder to the teacher to make classes more interesting and relevant to the needs of the students. Through the use of this teaching ideas the ability to teach large groups more effectively is made much easier.
1. Simon Andrewes ?Group work v whole class activities? http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/think/methodology/whole_class.shtml
2. Fiona, Lawtie ?Teacher speaking skills over coming classroom problems. http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/think/speak/speak_skills2.shtml
3. Sue Swift ?Using repetition drills? http://eltnotebook.blogspot.com/2006/10/using-repetition-drillsl
Author: Mathew Smallbane
Date of post: 2007-04-09