Large classes One of the most important ideas that

One of the most important ideas that teachers need to embrace is how to use large class groups as an advantage, rather than viewing them as a challenge.

A teacher normally does not have any choice regarding the actual class size, although private tutoring would be the exception. In teaching classes of 40 or more, students could effectively learn together more easily by providing a humorous and cohesive class structure. Students who are comfortable and happy in their surroundings tend to be eager, excited and more interested in the learning process, which is the ultimate goal.

Many discussion topics are relevant to the teaching of large classes, various types of seating arrangements being one of them. Each has a specific advantage depending on the class and the subject matter. However, by having a large class, students could be broken into smaller groups that are more manageable, or in some cases pairs. Issues that may arise in groups include students not being cooperative with others, or the fact that one student may attempt to dominate the group. There is also a greater chance for students reverting to using their first language more frequently, rather than improving on their Oral English skills. A class with five or six groups will obviously become noisier.

In support of group work, as the teacher you have the advantage to flow in and out of each group as needed, to assess how well they are doing on the given task. The purpose is to monitor their activities, not attempt to control each group. The students create a cooperative for discussion, essentially learning from each other's actions, ideas and speech. It gives them the chance to become more independent and to participate equally within the group. In this forum, they will develop confidence in speaking English publicly, as well as have the chance for limited experimentation. Role-play may have them use the language freely, not being bound by the strict rules of grammar. In the group, they form a safe haven not pressured by the entire class listening as they speak, or possibly hear any mistakes they may make.

Study groups provide alternatives and advantages over the teacher as a whole. A lower-level student within his or her peer group will always become more talkative as they learn. The fear of direct speech to the teacher is removed, and others in the group normally provide some coaxing for the shy students. The younger students are more likely to ask questions regarding an unfamiliar topic. Higher-level students could be group leaders, the added responsibilities will certainly challenge their skills further. It is quite easy for a teacher to determine which students are weak or strong participants when observed from outside the groups. In that case, a new group could be formed entirely of those students provided there are sufficient numbers to warrant it..

By having large classes working in groups, it enables teachers to perform other functions. Tasks including reviewing homework, correcting tests, creating worksheets or designing future lesson plans are possible when the students are otherwise engaged in this manner. Conservative planning, with respect to the limited class time, gives the teacher an excellent opportunity to provide personal attention within a group, and in any capacity. Problem areas that are not evident when addressing the class body, could be corrected on an individual basis as well. It is an excellent teacher use of multi-tasking for the classroom.

An often forgotten point in using group work is setting a specific time limit and adhering to it. This is imperative so students focus on the given tasks. There should be always be class time left for students to demonstrate whatever skills they have learned. The teacher can then offer constructive suggestions and feedback on the content, which will encourage future motivation.

A teacher should not be intimidated in facing 40 or more students. Welcome them with a smiling face, and a lesson plan that can be useful in saving your voice. The teaching of Oral English suggests that the students be coerced to do as much of the talking as possible, you are there to help them in achieving that goal, by providing the necessary guidance and support.


ITTT International TEFL Teacher Training course book The Practice of English Language Teaching by Jeremy Harmer