Teach English in Wuduan Zhen - Xuzhou Shi

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When teaching larger classes there can be a few obstacles like the diversity of students, the difficulty of setting and enforcing classroom behaviour and the lack of flexibility. An integral part of the lessons, to go fluently and be successful, is classroom management. Organising and managing the class in order for the lessons to be relaxed but to maintain discipline at the same time. Make sure that the classroom is always set up ahead of time. Know how many students to expect and have the seating arrangements ready in such a way that would be most beneficial. Will all the students be able to see you properly when using gestures or miming? Will all the students be able to hear you and see all the board work? The classroom arrangement will obviously depend on how much space is available. Make sure that you as a teacher will always be able to maintain control in the classroom but that the students can communicate with each other when necessary as well. Most probably it will end up in orderly rows but if space allows it you can arrange the rows in a horseshoe shape. Because teaching larger groups can be more work, be very well prepared. Always have the lesson plans ready with more than enough activities and materials so you do not run out or if some students work faster than others. Make sure the classroom is always ready before students arrive. That the board is clean or has the necessary work already written down. All your materials should be ready and in order, easy for you to reach. Getting to know your students individually is important but difficult with larger groups. On the first day have them write down their names on a piece of paper and stick it on the front of the desk for future reference. Then introduce yourself to them, listen to their names and make sure of correct pronunciation. When teaching try your best to have greater projection in your voice to make sure that even the students at the back of the classroom can hear you clearly. Use variation in your voice for greater effectiveness and remember to adapt your language complexity according to the level of the students. A good use of gestures when explaining is important so it becomes more like demonstrating. It adds visual interest and sometimes reduces the need for verbal explanations. Ideally it would also help to manage the class. During the first lesson make sure to use activities and do not resort to your course books. Try and find out more about the students, their English level as well as their aspirations and needs. Activities for larger groups can include roll the dice or pass the ball. This will also work well for different ages. Warmers can be used to get the group motivated and activities such as hangman or tongue twisters can be used. When choosing activities for larger groups make sure that it is on a level that the students will be able to do. Look at how much time would be needed for each activity, would they do it individually or can they work in pairs or small groups to make it easier and more time efficient. Before starting activities make sure you give clear instructions and check that they understand by asking them to do an example, not by literally asking “Do you understand?”. Make sure that with each activity the students have enough time to prepare before starting their activities. Whole class grouping activities can be great for quicker and easier organization but be careful that it doesn’t reduce the students’ opportunities to speak, too much. Using pair work dramatically increases student talk time and allows the teacher to work with one pair while the others carry on. The stronger students can support the weaker students and it is quick and easy to organize. For a greater increase in talk time and student to student interaction, group work is ideal. There are less personal problems than in pairs but be careful that some students do not dominate the activity. Both group and pair work activities might become noisy or disruptive so it is important to stay somewhat in control and monitor the situation. Make sure students respect and understand that you are still the manager of the classroom and therefore also the enforcer of discipline. Engage activities for larger groups can include mime and actions, scenario building and playing ‘Scattegories’. For younger students fun activities can be alphabet relay, sevens or word linking. Study activity examples are gap-fill, matching exercises, choral repetition, tongue twisters and word orders. Activities for the activate phase can be role-play, story building and discussions or debates are great for larger groups. Surveys can also be used but if the group is very large put a limit to the amount of classmates they will interview, so it doesn’t take all day. When using materials make sure of a good combination of authentic and created materials. Authentic materials like newspaper articles, brochures and menus can be used with older students where songs and poems are a fun way of teaching large groups of young children. During the engage phase created materials such as flash cards and picture stories can be helpful if they are big enough to see by all. Otherwise it can be shown on a smartboard. During the study phase groups can make good use of crosswords or word search puzzles when stronger students have already finished their work. Worksheets are also good because it ensures that each student participates. When choosing materials be aware that the students can be on different levels so split them into smaller groups of stronger and weaker students. You can use different materials for the different groups or the same material but different activities. Maintaining discipline in a large group can be challenging. In older students or adults, boredom can cause them to lose interest and talk between each other or get distracted with things like their smartphones. Keep lessons interesting and varied. Always be punctual and prepared, consistent and fair. Younger children have different reasons for not listening or behaving such as peer pressure or a lack of concentration. Make sure to be aware of which students do not work well together and change seating arrangements or group and pair work. For very young children always stay energetic and use a lot of gestures or miming. Keep the different activities shorter and change it up regularly.