Teach English in A'ershAnshibailang Zhen - Xing'an Meng — Hinggan

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Having a large class of 30 or more students can be very daunting for a teacher. When the subject is foreign language, which is such a personalized subject for students to learn, the challenge of a large class can seem even larger. How can teachers pay attention to the entire class? How do they ensure that all students are actively participating? These are questions that teachers in large classes face. There is no denying the challenges of a large class, but there are techniques teachers can use to help them succeed in a large classroom and address the issues that come with it. The first step a teacher can take to ensure that they are paying attention to all students is to confirm that they don’t have an unconscious bias towards or against certain students in the classroom. A teacher with an unconscious bias may call upon one or a group of students more often than others without realizing it. There are many different types of unconscious bias. A teacher may call on one student, a certain gender, race, or even one side of the room more often. The last example is one I personally experienced. I had a tendency to call on students on my left side more than my right. I’d had no idea that I was doing so until a colleague sat in on a couple of my classes and commented on it to me. If a colleague isn’t available, using a camera to record lessons can be very useful by allowing teachers to see the lesson from an outside view so that they can identify and correct any such bias. Developing a system for calling on students fairly can also be useful in ensuring that all students are given attention in a classroom by guaranteeing they all have an equal chance to participate. In my opinion and experience, the best systems are those that are impartial and random. An example of such a system would be to write student names or student numbers on cards and choose randomly to determine who will answer a question or participate in an activity. These types of systems can help to balance classrooms that have some students who over-participate and others who don’t want to participate at all. I’ve used this type system myself to great success. Because the students don’t know when they might be called, the students pay more attention to what is happening in the class. In my experience, the students also accept these random results more readily as they are the outcome of chance not choice; there is no sense of being picked on or favored by the teacher. One more technique that teachers can use to manage large classrooms so as to best pay attention to all students is to have students work in groups. If the class is too large, giving meaningful individual attention to each student in a single lesson can be a mathematical impossibility, but by dividing the students into groups, targeted interactions become much more manageable. Groups not only allow the students to work together, correct, and teach one another which can help with their own learning processes, but it also allows the teacher to move among the groups and address issues more efficiently. Smaller errors can be self-corrected within the groups while any larger mistakes that are missed can be addressed by the teacher when they’re discovered, which will be easier since the teacher is dividing his or her attention between five or six groups instead of 30 or so individuals. However, group work does come with its own challenges. Steps should be taken to discourage students from simply copying one another’s work, especially if the groups consist of greatly varying ability levels. Teachers of large classes definitely have challenges they must face, but the things mentioned above are just some techniques that can be used to combat those challenges. Large classes do have advantages as well that teachers can take advantage of. More students mean more ideas, more energy, and more opportunities for collaborative work. In any case, since teachers rarely get much of a say in how large their classes will be, it is up to them to make the best out of their classroom situation.