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Students Using L1 in the Classroom

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Joined: 13 Mar 2012
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:30 pm    Post subject: Students Using L1 in the Classroom Reply with quote

I've had some problems recently with students using L1 excessively in the classroom. I don't mind if the students use L1 occasionally (for example, stronger students translating a word for weaker students). However, I've let one of my classes slide too far, and they are using L1 heavily. What is a gentle, yet firm way of correcting this? One of the difficulties I have in correcting this (and classroom management in general) is that I am a relatively young teacher, so many of my students are around my age or even older, and I am reluctant to "crack down" too hard.

Thank you in advance for the answers.
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Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8640
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

These are adults, right? Usually no need to come the heavy. Simply saying "English please, gentlemen!" works well enough. If not, I find just stopping everything I am doing, not speaking, not engaging with the class until the hubbub dies down, can be quite effective. Then, when there's silence, asking "Are we ready to continue now?" makes the point well enough, regardless of class level even.

In really extreme situations, which are mercifully rare, I use the 'classroom contract' activity. Basically hold an open discussion to elicit what the do's and don'ts are of an effective classroom, from the point of view of the teacher and the learners. Whiteboard two columns of 'should', 'mustn't' statements - e.g. The teacher should correct the students; the students mustn't speak Russian. Then have the class draw up the agreed points on a large sheet, A3, and everybody signs up to it. Stick it on the wall, and then in future simply point to it when they launch into L1 excessively.

Most learners are fairly reasonable. No need to 'crack down' as such. But at the same time, do not be afraid of taking control. You ARE the teacher. You can tell them to stop doing things like L1. Your school should back you up on this if there were some conflict. But I'd doubt there would be. In fact, I'd imagine that many of your students would like it if their teacher did take them to task, and maintain discipline. Age shouldn't really matter as much as it might seem.

Best of luck!
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Joined: 10 Oct 2007
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2013 6:05 pm    Post subject: L1 in the Classroomm Reply with quote

Two strategies I use:

1. I explain to my class that the will learn English much quicker if they work on thinking in English; and when someone gives the a simple L1 translation, or explanation, they miss an important opportunity to learn. The most common occurrence is when I am introducing a new vocabulary word, they ignore all of the English examples, parallels, connotation information, synonyms, and simply note the parallel L1 word.

However, there are times when it is helpful to use L1. For this situation I outline my hand in the corner of the chalk/white board. If they need/want to speak L1, they must come to the front of the class and put their hand in the outline. This process usually makes them feel humble/silly enough that they don't overuse it. Usually, they rescue me regarding an assignment that I have not explained well.

2. I have a couple of sets of regulation football/soccer red and yellow cards that I keep in my shirt pocket. They are small, made of plastic, and universally understood. If someone makes a small breach of conduct in class, I smile and gesture that I am thinking about giving them a yellow card (slipping it slightly out of my pocket). If they boldly decide to break class rules, I will show them a yellow card. Again, any level English, any where in the world, folks understand the meaning of a yellow card. If I have someone that still acts incorrectly in class, i speak to them privately and explain the reason their behavior is limiting the learning process. I also explain that I am genuinely ready to excuse them from class for the day if the issue continues. I have had the conversation - but never have I needed to give a student a red card.

Stand strong - your students are in the classroom because they want to learn English, and you can teach them.
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Joined: 13 Mar 2012
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Tue Nov 26, 2013 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the responses! Sorry that it has taken me so long to respond, but I've been very busy with teaching. English teaching abroad is much harder than I thought it would be, although it is also very rewarding.
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teacher X

Joined: 13 Feb 2013
Posts: 137
Location: Super Sovietsky Apartment Box 918

PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would suggest always bringing a baton to class. A quick whack on the hand tends to cut down on L1. Sure, you occasionally fracture a student's metacarpus, but they certainly wont be interrupting you again.
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