Effective ESL Classroom Management
Sep 29, 2013 Classroom Management 2955 Views
Being a great ESL teacher is so much more than just knowing a lot about the English language. Nothing exists in a vacuum. You’re never just explaining English grammar principles or drilling vocabulary. You’re interacting with real live human beings, each with their own unique temperaments, needs, and ESL goals. The more students you attempt to teach at one time, the harder you may find it to effectively manage your classroom time and attention, which means your students are likely to learn far less from you than they could.
Class Size Matters
Working in small groups is generally much more personal than working in large classroom settings. When you have, say, fewer than 10 students at a time, you are given a far greater opportunity to really get to know them. You can learn how best to interact with each of them. You don’t have that luxury with a room of 30+ restless young people, especially if most of them didn’t choose to be in your class. This problem is further compounded when working with young children or teenagers, as they are naturally much less focused and disciplined than adults.
Student Age Matters
Teaching kids generally requires having to divide up your time between educational instruction and disciplinarian action. The more time you spend getting them just to pay attention to you, the less time you have for increasing their knowledge, and the less time you have for clarifying misunderstandings. You need them to pay as much attention as possible to you and to genuinely want to learn. Instead of relying on constantly scolding them or sending them to the principal’s office, do what you can to get them to respect you well enough that they will seek to stay in your good graces.
Whole Class, Small Group, and Individual Attention
When teaching larger groups, learn when it is best to address the class as a whole, break them into smaller groups, or devote attention to individual student progress. It obviously saves time when you can say something only once and have everyone in the class understand it. This won’t always be feasible, though. Pair and group work can really do wonders to lessen the number of times you will have to explain something. As well, it allows weaker students to practice their skills with stronger ones. There will still always be times you will have to address individual student needs and questions, but these instances can be minimized and many precious minutes can be added to your effective classroom time.
Avoid Needless Repetition
Finally, make sure you aren’t repeating yourself unnecessarily. Most information will need to be taught and reviewed more than once to really be retained, but how your structure this repetition can make a huge difference in how much time you waste in class. Repeating information quickly reaches a point of diminishing returns if done too much right away. Find ways to creatively go back over the subjects taught in previous day’s and week’s lessons without detracting from what you are currently covering. English is a big broad topic with many sub-groups to focus on, and a good ESL teacher can find ways to incorporate and interrelate the language as a whole without beating a concept to death.