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Top TEFL Teaching Tips: How to Teach Large Classes

Top TEFL Teaching Tips: How to Teach Large Classes
Admin - Sep 29 2015

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In many places around the world teaching classes of 50 or more students is commonplace. As daunting as teaching these very large groups sounds, there are some tried and tested methods that will make your life a little easier, your classes a little more enjoyable and your students learning experience much more successful.

The following hints and tips feature in ‘Essential TEFL’, which was written by i-to-i’s Academic Director, James Jenkin and Emma Foers (a former TEFL experts).

Get to Know Your Students as Individuals
Try to learn all your student’s names and a little something about them. Students in big classes will be used to teachers pretty much ignoring them, so by making a bit of an effort will make a huge difference.

Top Three Tips
1: Get all your students to make and wear name tags for the first few weeks. It’s a fun activity for them and makes things loads easier for you.

2: Try to get your students to sit in the same place for the first 10-or-so lessons. That way you can make a little classroom map with their names against the relevant desk space.

3: Make a few notes about each student. That way you’ll not only be able to remember their names but a little bit of info about them.

Set Class Rules
Huge classes can get a little rowdy and hard to control unless you set a few rules and expectations.

Top Three Tips
1: Firstly, learn the school rules and make sure your classroom rules don’t clash with the official version.

2: On the first day agree on two or three key principles that will help you run a large class and stick them up on the wall. A good example, is that if someone is talking, everyone else has to listen quietly.

3: Have a consistent penalty for breaking the rules and make sure it involves the whole class – something like everyone has to stay behind after class for a few minutes. That way other students will try to dissuade their fellows from misbehaving.

Instruct Clearly

One of the biggest risks in a large class is that students may not understand what to do, so you’ll spend much of the lesson running around the room trying to repair your activity.

Top Three Tips

1: Use a signal to get your student’s attention and wait until you have everyone’s attention before you instruct. Those few seconds of patience will save a whole lot of chaos.

2: Use the whiteboard to support your instructions. Write up a word prompt, a discussion question or an example to get them started.

3: Always check your instructions to ensure comprehension. ‘Do you have to speak or write?’, “Are we looking for colours or shapes?’ for example.

Manage the Whole Group

Obviously managing a large group of students is a little different to managing a small group.

Top Three Tips

1: If a student responds quietly to a questions. Walk away from them and gesture to show that you want them to speak to the whole class.

2: Get your students to help with handing out materials and setting up activities.

3: Give students an ongoing activity to do if they finish the task early, things like writing a journal or doing spelling practice are always good.

Get Everyone Involved

Being part of a large group can mean that shy students (and work-shy students!)  can often hide away from the action. A big part of teaching in a large group is ensuring everyone gets involved.

Top Three Tips

1: Give students a mark for participation.

2: Assign roles in group work. Get one student to be the organiser with the responsibility of making sure every student contributes.

3: Move around the class in order to monitor group activities to make sure that everyone is playing their part.

Be Clever With Time Outside Class

One challenge with large classes is the amount of admin and marking you’ll need to do. However, there are a few ways of dealing with it.

Top Three Tips

1: Set homework that has right and wrong answers, and get your students to correct each other’s work in class.

2: Use a correction code (WW for wrong word, WT for wrong tense) and make sure your students have access to the key (perhaps put it up on the wall.

3: Set a time each week outside of class when students can come to you with questions.

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