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Some Advice on Large Classes
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steelmagnolia



Joined: 09 May 2006
Posts: 2
Location: Iquique, Chile

PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2006 12:48 pm    Post subject: Greetings Reply with quote

I teach in northern Chile at a local university. My classes are no where near 80....how awful to read that!!
But, I work with "late teens" and in Latin America the motto seems to be "just put it off till tomorrow and don't worry about it" I deal with tardiness, laziness, and a high absenteeism problem. English is just not that big a deal and I have actually walked out on classrooms that have not done their homework.
One thing that does seem to work is group activity. I divide them into groups of 2 or 5 or 10...depending on the topic. I pose a question or a situation and give them a time limit to discuss it. I find that I have to walk around the room constantly to keep them from talking in Spanish to each other.
I use alot of ethical cases.
I would be happy to post some group activities for you that have actually worked well.
What I have come to learn is that alot depends on what is going on with these teens in their own lives. There are the boyfriend/girlfriend problems.....heartaches....parents......pregnancy.......drug use.....you get the picture. So, I normally go to class with 2 activities planned. If Plan A is not right that day, I fall back on Plan B. Some days I wish I had a Plan C. Those are the days when I am ready to just throw in the towel.
Let me know if you would like any of these group activities posted.
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1368
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2006 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I "stickied" this thread so people could put their ideas in one place. Feel free to post yours!
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xyb



Joined: 09 May 2006
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Smile As a would-be English teacher, i've learned a lot from your experiences and your advice on esl teaching is pretty valuable to me.
thanks a lot !
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zxlair



Joined: 09 May 2006
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2006 3:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Iím so sorry to see you teaching so many students at the same time. However, this is a common situation especially in china. I have once participated in a summer training camp, in which the teacher came across the same situation as you. However, she divided the big classroom into several groups. And she conducted a lot of games for the students to participate in. And these competitive activities, surprising, aroused a lot of students interest (most of them are college students, age 19-21), and stimulated their motivation. As far as I concerned, it may be a good idea to conduct some competitive games in such a big classroom. It may make the teaching more effective and more interesting.

Zxlair ,Beijing

Very Happy
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hello kitty



Joined: 21 May 2006
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 3:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think this is a very common phenomenon in middle school in China today. A big classroom, so many students, it is so difficult and unfavorable for the students to learn a foreign language well, as well as for the teacher, is a rather toilsome task. But this kind of situation canít be changed in a short years, for the condition in our country doesnít allow the foreign language teaching to be carried out in a more effective way on a large scale, that is, one teacher teaches only a small group of students. And whatís more, the learning load of middle school students in our country is very heavy, the students have to finish plenty of assignment in a short period of time, especially for the senior middle school students. So I think itís unrealistic for the teachers to carry out a lot of interesting activities, though sometimes it can really arouse the studentsí interest, I still doubt then whether the teacher can finish the teaching task on time. So in my opinion, how to change the situation is not an affair the teacher has to think over, but a big problem the Ministry of Education has to solve, because so many students study foreign language together is a disadvantage, and so heavy learning assignment for them must diminish the time they spend on meaningful activities.
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Fisherman13



Joined: 12 May 2006
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 1:27 am    Post subject: Tell me more about the disadvantages of teaching a big class Reply with quote

I have sympathy toward you, for itís unbearable for a teacher to teach so many students. I donít know which province of China you were teaching at that time, because the situation you mentioned that 80 students per class and they were packed into the classroom like sardines were packed into a can is very rare in Beijing, where I live. Thus, I am just wondering whether the situation has been changed or not since a few years passed. Actually, I am a sophomore, and I am going to be a teacher within two years. During my spare time, I do some tutoring jobs, from which I can gain some beneficial teaching experience. However, itís quite different to teacher a single child a time for teaching a whole class. Maybe because I donít know much about the disadvantages of teaching a big class, I am looking forward to teaching a real class, as I am going to teach a whole class in the future rather than simply teach one student a time. Therefore, could you tell me some other drawbacks of teaching a big class that bother you all the time in order that I will be well prepared for the challenges of teaching a real big class?
Thank you!
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zhanghuaapple



Joined: 07 Jun 2006
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2006 8:42 am    Post subject: Re: Some Advice on Large Classes Reply with quote

Teacher Lindsay wrote:
I've been teaching ESL for 6 years and have accumulated 500+ games / activities / hand-outs during that time.

I am in my first year of teaching in China, at a government secondary school. I teach 22 classes of Senior 1 students, who are aged 16 - 17 and are in their third year of secondary school. They study with me once per week for 40 minutes per lesson.

I teach a total of 1,760 students. There are 80 students per class and they are packed into the classroom like sardines are packed into a can.

My usual modus operandi is to introduce the subject matter outlined in the study book, explain the vocabulary, role-model the conversation / questions & answers with one student and then get the students up out of their chairs to walk around and practice the conversation with each other.

With 80 students in the class there is simply no room to move. The students have permanent seating positions (students remain in one room all day, the teachers go from room-to-room) so practicing the conversation whilst seated means they talk with the same person each time.

Also, there is no room for me to walk around and monitor every student.

All of games and supplementary activities I have collected over the years require the ability for students to be able to freely move around the classroom. I need to come up with some new ideas.

16 of "my" classrooms have functioning computers and overhead projectors. I have a computer (& printer) in my on-campus apartment with unrestricted access to the internet.

The school has a photocopier but I have been told that making 1,760 copies of a hand-out for any given lesson is out of the question.

I considered producing hand-outs myself but the cost is prohibitive.

The head of the English Language Department suggested that I have hand-outs copied at a photocopy shop and ask the students to pay for each sheet, but I am reluctant to do so.

I do have a few outdoor activities in mind (information hunt & word relay race) for when the weather warms up.

I would very much welcome and appreciate advice / ideas from any teacher who has first-hand experience teaching very large classes.

Thanks.

Teacher Lindsay

you should consider the difference between culture and culture.maybe sometimes what the chinese pupils show in class didn't mean disrespect.
just because you know little about chiness culture,you should devote more patience,more passion to them.the important thing for every teacher is to attact the students' soul by ur teaching approach,by ur personality and so on .don't alway complain the class is large,the room is small,if u often think so,how can u do well in ur job?
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carlasilva



Joined: 11 Jul 2006
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 4:38 pm    Post subject: Sardines Reply with quote

How is it possible to teach in such conditions? I would like to give you some suggestions, but I have never had such an experience... Rolling Eyes Wink
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manuela bravo



Joined: 11 Jul 2006
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue Jul 11, 2006 4:49 pm    Post subject: Teaching large classes Reply with quote

I'm astonished at your working conditions. I'm a Portuguese teacher. Although we keep complaining about our conditions, I must admit they are really much better than yours. Teaching so many students packed in a room must really be hard work.
You could divide the class into groups of mixed ability students and give them graded tasks to perform so that the better students could help the ones that have more language learning difficulties.
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kisi



Joined: 14 Aug 2006
Posts: 24
Location: China

PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2006 6:03 pm    Post subject: Teach large classes with Powerpoint Reply with quote

Hi,
I have been teaching large classes in China for over four years now. Well if you have overhead projectors in the classroom, you can adapt lots of games using Powerpoint presentations. There are memory games that you can build on powerpoint. Powerpoint presentations make it easy for you to present new vocabulary. you just need to be a bit more creative in using them.
I am an advanced developer of powerpoint lessons. If you use ms office 2003 you will find that there are great new additions to powerpoint which you can use to create highly interactive learning materials for your classroom.
To see how some of my presentations look like, please visit this link to my site at www.esl-galaxy.com/powerpoint.htm Also I have adapted powerpoint video lessons for large classes review exercises and self-study for students. You've got to get into the similar activities like you have on www.esl-galaxy.com
Also, you can use my second student based site to ease your teaching. My students use it a lot. Check it at www.englishmedialab.com
There are lots of powerpoint video lessons ready made for the classroom and self-study.
goodluck in your teaching

kisi
www.englishmedialab.com

[url]www.esl-galaxy.com [/url]
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humaboutChina



Joined: 21 Oct 2006
Posts: 2
Location: Earth still

PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2006 9:32 am    Post subject: Cultural differences?? class size? Reply with quote

Hello I'm new here. I'm from Canada. I've been in China for almost a year, this is my third school. I wanted to have a good idea of the "Chinese culture" So I worked in the north, middle and south.
I realized that China does not have ONE culture. But very colorful, diverse and amazing cultures.
But one thing that :oops: me is dealing with Chinese English teachers blaming everything on Culture. From the students to getting a visa...
[[quote]i]
Quote:
you should consider the difference between culture and culture.maybe sometimes what the chinese pupils show in class didn't mean disrespect.
just because you know little about chiness culture,you should devote more patience,more passion to them.the important thing for every teacher is to attact the students' soul by ur teaching approach,by ur personality and so on .don't alway complain the class is large,the room ison't alway complain the class is large,the room is small,if u often think so,how can u do well in ur job


I always try to tell them that it is not the same in the north. But those teachers have never been anywhere but there city or village. The class size has nothing to do with culture.
In general, the classes are too big in China. It is not open for debate. I'm not talking about the big cities. I'm talking about the real China: Henan for example. I had 77 students in one class + students from other departments who liked my teaching style+ some local businessmen even policemen. Classes where the students had to stand outside!! This is not culture is a lack of ressource.
WE, from the west can't just come and "be Chinese" we have our own culturo-educational background.We just have to perform "mass teaching"
as opposed to what we are used to.
thank you
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cniesar



Joined: 14 Nov 2006
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue Nov 14, 2006 10:54 am    Post subject: Fun game for large class Reply with quote

I have aslo been teaching in China and have had the same problem. I have 6 classes a week at 60+ a class, but I did find a game that works for that size. I have no name for it yet because I just came across it. The best part is it requires no materials to play and can be changed to work for most any level student. Here's how it goes. You divide the class into teams of 5 or 6 students and ask them to pick a team captain and a name. Once this is done you also ask one student to be a class recorder. They simply keep track of the teams that get knocked out of the game. Captains arer responsible for get all the teamates to participate. I start by putting a 4 letter word on the board. Then I explain that the teams go in order and must make a new word by changing one letter of the word. They cannot add or subtract letters. ex. talk- walk- wall- ball and so on. Have them write the words on the board as they go. When a team changes the word they must also use it correctly in a sentence, and the other teams can say if it is right or wrong. If a team says the sentence is incorrect, but it is correct that team gets knockled out. If a team cannot come up with a word or sentence they are knocked out and so on. I also set a time limit for. Time begins when the first team gives a correct sentence the next team gets 1 min- 3 mins, depending on what you want, to come up with the next word and sentence. Teams aslo cannot repeat words ofcourse. It seems easy at first but came become harder as it goes. Anyway I tried it today and the students loved it! Especially if a team used the word incorrectly. They all shouted Wrong!!! Hope it helps you.
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clio.gr



Joined: 23 Jun 2006
Posts: 58
Location: ATHENS-GREECE

PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 8:33 am    Post subject: Re: Some Advice on Large Classes Reply with quote

zhanghuaapple wrote:
Teacher Lindsay wrote:
I've been teaching ESL for 6 years and have accumulated 500+ games / activities / hand-outs during that time.

I am in my first year of teaching in China, at a government secondary school. I teach 22 classes of Senior 1 students, who are aged 16 - 17 and are in their third year of secondary school. They study with me once per week for 40 minutes per lesson.

I teach a total of 1,760 students. There are 80 students per class and they are packed into the classroom like sardines are packed into a can.

My usual modus operandi is to introduce the subject matter outlined in the study book, explain the vocabulary, role-model the conversation / questions & answers with one student and then get the students up out of their chairs to walk around and practice the conversation with each other.

With 80 students in the class there is simply no room to move. The students have permanent seating positions (students remain in one room all day, the teachers go from room-to-room) so practicing the conversation whilst seated means they talk with the same person each time.

Also, there is no room for me to walk around and monitor every student.

All of games and supplementary activities I have collected over the years require the ability for students to be able to freely move around the classroom. I need to come up with some new ideas.

16 of "my" classrooms have functioning computers and overhead projectors. I have a computer (& printer) in my on-campus apartment with unrestricted access to the internet.

The school has a photocopier but I have been told that making 1,760 copies of a hand-out for any given lesson is out of the question.

I considered producing hand-outs myself but the cost is prohibitive.

The head of the English Language Department suggested that I have hand-outs copied at a photocopy shop and ask the students to pay for each sheet, but I am reluctant to do so.

I do have a few outdoor activities in mind (information hunt & word relay race) for when the weather warms up.

I would very much welcome and appreciate advice / ideas from any teacher who has first-hand experience teaching very large classes.

Thanks.

Teacher Lindsay

you should consider the difference between culture and culture.maybe sometimes what the chinese pupils show in class didn't mean disrespect.
just because you know little about chiness culture,you should devote more patience,more passion to them.the important thing for every teacher is to attact the students' soul by ur teaching approach,by ur personality and so on .don't alway complain the class is large,the room is small,if u often think so,how can u do well in ur job?


I agree with zhanghuaapple.

We, the teachers, have to spend time and effort to understand and respect our students culture, background and social surroundings. We adapt our lesson to them and not the vice versa.

How can we expect them to pay attention to sth. not being of their interest? Would you watch a TV programme you are not interested in?

How do you expect to respect you if you don't respect their culture, i.e their identity, their everyday life and practice? Would you respect someone who would tell you 'ok. I know better so I won't listen to what you are telling me. This is what I strongly believe you have to do because in the East we do it like this. So the best thing is to sit on the floor , you ignorant Western. Chairs don't help you concentrating.' Learn about 'your silent Indians' in order to make them speak to you.
You will see that discipline problems will be solved if you adapt your lessons to them.


Teamwork, open ended tasks, role playing, simulations, CALL activities, project work, video lessons etc are few of my suggestions.

I am sorry but we, the teachers, should change the way we see things. Behaviourism doesn't work. I would recommend a book I've been reading and enjoying lately 'Experiential Learning in Foreign Language Education' by Longman (Pearson Education Limited 2001).[/b]
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Peter2380



Joined: 12 Apr 2007
Posts: 5
Location: Chongqing, China

PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 2:59 pm    Post subject: Comments Reply with quote

I also work in China, in huge classes (up to 80 students, evenin elementary school)... I don't think it is only lack of interest that keeps them from teaching - they are afraid of making mistakes (they have a terrible fear of 'losing face' if they make a mistake) and also are so terrible overworked that any class where the teacher doesn't throw them to the lions if they don't listen is automatically 'a time to do their huge amount of homework' - some of my students stay up till midnight to do finish homework, then are up at 6.30AM. But the large classes do make it too hard to know what they are actually saying to each others - I hear too many words, phrases in Chinese, but I don't think there is much that we can do about that - there is no point trying to be one policeman for a group of 80!
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clio.gr



Joined: 23 Jun 2006
Posts: 58
Location: ATHENS-GREECE

PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2007 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The student should be convinced that first of all English is useful and second that making a mistake will help him/her to become better.

I correct their exercises or papers with the same colour they've written. I never underline or cross out anything they've spend time to write. I put a small number over the mistake and on a 'post it' I write the correct answer or the rule etc.

When we have a test, I enter the classroom as usual and I try to show them that this is another lesson.

I always correct the mistakes that are relevant to my lesson aims.

I am careful with my comments and bodylanguage.

In this way I have noticed that my students are relaxed and participate without being afraid of losing face.
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