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Classroom Management troubles with adults

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Joined: 12 Dec 2005
Posts: 4
Location: USA

PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2006 5:12 pm    Post subject: Classroom Management troubles with adults Reply with quote

I got a new group two weeks ago and half of them are interested only in a Spanish coffee clatch. It's hard to believe these are adults paying to come to class 20 hours a week to visit in Spanish, sell Mary Kaye, answer cell phone calls and talk over their teacher in class. I made a seating chart to break up the cliques a bit, but it was wildly unpopular. In my school, prospective students are given tours of the classes in session and I would die of shame if a Vietnamese group came in during this mess. I have dealt with this with children before, but all the usual methods seem age inappropriate. My next idea will be turning the tables into a U shape to try to make them more accountable. Any ideas out there?
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Joined: 22 Jan 2006
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Pixierox. Unfortunately I'm not writing with advice but to say that I'm having this same problem too and I'm ready to pull my hair out. These are the steps I've taken thus far:

1) group talk about only using English in the classroom
2) individual talks (with trouble makers!)
3) setting classroom rules and expectations (created by students, who themselves set the "No Spanish in the English class")
4) seating arrangement
5) motivational speeches
6) nagging!
7) and finally yesterday dismissing the class early and telling them they could stay as long as they'd like to practice Spanish but I was leaving. And I left!

I'm desperate for more conversation on this topic! HELP!
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Joined: 17 Dec 2005
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have had this problem too in classes I've subbed for. There are mostly native Russian speakers and they won't stop talking in Russian to the exclusion of others.

One time, I had all Russian speakers except for one Spanish speaker. The Spanish speaker was getting understandably frustrated. So I started addressing her only in Spanish. The Russian speakers eventually got the point.
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Joined: 18 May 2007
Posts: 151
Location: Los Angeles, California

PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2007 4:53 am    Post subject: Ask more. Know more. Share more. Reply with quote

Arrive early, bring plenty of handouts, and ask a question on their sign-in sheets like what's your favorite movie. Followup with plenty of practical information. I also like to try to create some classroom conversations.

Ask more. Know more. Share more.
Create Compelling Conversations.

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Joined: 13 Nov 2005
Posts: 246

PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 8:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Pixie

Try to avoid nagging.
I can't remember if I read it here, but if you become a 'parent' you become the worst kind of teacher and you will fail.
I know I have been there, and I failed, but I learned.

There are lots of ways of breaking up cliques. Here are some ideas that have worked for me, but I am no expert.

I use lots of group and pair work. I do pairs, threes and fours.

Lots of role play.

I do this by numbering them off or, for breaking up a group go down the row, ABCDE/ABCDE.
Then say 'OK all the As in this corner, all the Bs....etc.'
This way they do not see it as braking up the clique. Also it gets them moving around the class room. This not only adds energy but also adds variety and prevents boredom of always sitting in the same place.

I start the class with a horeshoe and remove any vacant chairs (stack them). This way everybody sits next to somebody. Also late comers have to get a chair, so they 'know' they are late and you don't need to tell them, just smile sweetly and welcome them. This helps build rapport.

Then for group pair work they can move chairs together into little circles spread around the room.
The first couple of times you may need to get in amoungst them and guide them how to set up little circles.

Also float around the groups to give them vocabulary, praise, encouragement, etc.

After the activity it does not matter if the chairs are returnd to 'horseshoe', this way the room can be used flexibly.

For some pair work (telephone call activities) I have them sit back to back. I make a point of tellling them that this is because on the phone they will not be able to 'read' the persons face or body language.

For every new activity I change the grouping of students.

If you do this from day one, and keep breaking up the horseshoe, any notion the SS may have of 'that's my seat' become irrelevant.

One other small thing I did was keep a toffee jar in my bag. Instant prizes and praise for good effort. It is amazing the power a small toffee has.

Keeping the SS speaking in English can be a challenge, but make a joke of it. I just laugh and smile at my students as I repeat thier Chinese (in my case).
But if you keep them busy running around they won't have time to gossip, and the class will go much quicker for them, and just as importantly, for you.
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Sally Olsen

Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1322
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Wed Nov 07, 2007 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some great ideas.

I always put up a plan for the class above the front board on a long sheet of paper or papers attached together to make a banner. It provides an easy check list of where we are and where we are going. Then the students can see their progress and even tell others what they have accomplished so far or need to review because they didn't learn it very well the first time.

You can make it as visual as possible with graphs, charts, pictures and so on. I try to stick on some pictures of the class that will show our progress as well.

I try to make the teaching strategies as transparant as possible and keep a list of activities that we did so when they take over they can use one of the strategies.

I like to use humour as well as much as possible to defuse the situation. Once I pretended to be Mr. Smith from the Matrix and stuck my arm into the student's body to turn him into an English speaker. Just in mime of course. I gave the students a choice of a red or blue Smarty (candy) to see if they wanted to stay where they were or if they wanted to have a new life.

Stop everything when someone gets a phone call and all listen in. Translate what is being said on your end into English as best you can and get others to help you understand the conversation and then develop it with comments on the content.

One very important reason that adults come to classes is to socialize and since it is so hard to do at first in the second language, they will revert to their first langauge. It shows just how important the socializing is. Point this out and how to use that power to get them thinking of greater goals.

Your expectations of having a quiet classroom with just one person talking at a time is not the norm in many countreis. If you go to church in Russia you can hear people talking over the priest or if you go to a group gathering such a play, in Mexico you will hear the same thing. A school assembly in Japan is chaos to some people. In Somalia, they all talk at once in the "Shir" or gathering of people to talk out a problem until the silver tongue of one person wins out. Respect for one speaker is a very "English" expectation and one you will have to teach patiently if they want you as a teacher, just as they are learning vocabulary, grammar, etc.

Here is another discussion on this topic:
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Joined: 07 May 2012
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some great suggestions were given in the previous posts. I would add that listening comprehension activities also work well. If the students have to listen to a CD audio recording and complete some kind of written activity as they listen, they will naturally have to stop talking in order to do so. Showing movie/video clips and using them as springboards for discussion or as ways to reinforce grammar points are also very effective. Just make sure that when they are listening or viewing, they have to complete something written. Afterwards, have them discuss their answers as a group. This again holds them accountable an they are forced to pay attention. If they want to use their cell phones,have them text answers to you to display on the projection screen for all to see and then discuss. If their interests lie in entrepenuership and selling, make that a topic of conversation for all. Also, it is not impolite to ask those who have to take an "emergency" call to do so in the hallway as not to disrupt the rest of the students who are trying to learn. Lastly, if you dwell too much on grammar and have too much independent written work for them to do, just like children, you will lose them. So incorporate a LOT of pair and small group work. Get them talking (in English) since that is obviously what they want to do. (P.S. if the group consists of a lot of ladies and they like to gossip, try showing snippets of a soap opera or have them watch it for homework and then they can "gossip" about it in English. There are even magazines that go along with the soap operas that they can work on their reading skills as well. Like kids, you have to capture their attention and make it fun. Reach them where they are. Include their interests (not your own) and win them over Very Happy )
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