Classroom Management for Teaching English as a Foreign Language - Grouping Students
Our next consideration is going to be how we actually group our students. There are perhaps three types of grouping arrangements that we can consider and within those we'll have a look at the potential positive and negatives of those particular arrangements. So firstly, what arrangements can we use? We could arrange our group as a whole class so all of their activities will be done as a whole class. They could be working as individuals and the final grouping arrangement we'll consider is that of small groups or indeed the use of pair work. So for each of these types of arrangements what are the potential positive and negatives with that type of arrangement? For the whole class certainly one of the main positive features is that it gives that class a sense of belonging. Secondly the whole group can interact with each other and perhaps the final benefit that we'll put here is as a whole class it's actually good for classroom control. There are some potential drawbacks, however, to having this type of arrangement. Obviously one of the first things is that it can reduce the opportunity for student talk time because all of the class are working together. Secondly, for the shy students it can be quite off-putting having to work with the whole class together and perhaps finally here whilst it is good for classroom control then it is more difficult having the whole class working together to actually manage the activities and due to some of these potential negative reasons what we often try to do is to arrange the class in a different way, for example as individuals. What are the potential advantages of arranging the class in this way? Well, it does allow the teacher to respond to individual students. If the class are working as individuals anyway then if someone has a particular question by the teacher talking with them on a one-to-one basis they're not going to disturb everyone else, whereas they would if they were working as a whole class. Another thing that it will do is allow the student to become more self-reliant. Obviously when they're working on their own they're going to have to produce their own answers and that will help them with their self-reliance. Some potential drawbacks, however, to this particular type of arrangement. Obviously if they're working as individuals then there's very little chance the student/student interaction and again as with the ideal choice students when they're working on their own they need to be producing their own answers and this can create more pressure on the students. Obviously if they're working in a group or they're working as pairs then those answers that they create are due to two people and that takes a little bit of pressure off whereas working as individuals that extra pressure is there to create those answers. So perhaps on to the final arrangement that's used most often within ESL classrooms is the use of pair work. The potential benefits of using pair work are many that we'll just note a couple. The first thing that it will do is massively increase the opportunity for student talk time so that as the activity is taking place, if they're working in a pair they can pass ideas backwards and forwards between each other and this creates a much safer environment for the student working. There are some potential negatives also for working in pairs and the first perhaps most obvious one is that they may not actually get on with their partner and this will obviously reduce all the potential benefits if they're not particularly willing to talk to each other. Throughout the use of any activity and the ways in which they're grouped we should pay attention to using the students? names and will go on to have a look at that now.
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