Tips to keep discipline in a TEFL classroom
Sep 15, 2011 Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) 2941 Views
How to keep discipline in a TEFL classroom full of teenagers
Discipline in the classroom can be a mine field for any teacher but for teachers of English as a foreign language maintaining discipline comes with further complications. The key to TEFL's success is that only English is spoken in our classrooms regardless of the teacher's ability to speak the native language (which is usually very little ) so this gives us the problem of trying to communicate our rules or dissatisfaction without being able to explain in English. We also have to constantly bear in mind that the cultural differences we are facing (depending on our students nationality) can play a significant role to the groups behaviour.
Even though it's certainly tricky if you follow a few simple rules and some of my tips then you will find maintaining discipline will become a breeze and you can concentrate on delivering fun and effective TEFL lessons. Firstly, you have to remember that teenagers are pretty much the same the world over, it's their job to try and push the boundaries and and express their independence it's noting personal so don't take it personally!
Consistency is the golden rule
What your students need and what must deliver are boundaries and consistency. It's that simple, the golden rule is consistency. Do what you say you will do! If you catch a student playing with his phone in class and you warn him you will take the phone off him if you catch him again then simply, no matter what happens, if he does it again you must follow through!. The moment you don't do what you warn or threaten is the moment you start to lose control and your students start to push the boundaries and ignore you. The hardest part of TEFL teaching is trying to regain control so it's must easier just not to give it away.
Learn to say "NO"
The next rule is to remember that most of the time a long winded explanation as to why that behaviour is unacceptable is going to fall on deaf ears, your students are not necessarily rude they just don't have the English skills to understand, and when people don't understand something they often just switch off. Learn to do a simple “NO”but with conviction it lets that their behaviour is not acceptable and remember, their English is limited they are not stupid, most of the time they will no exactly what you are not happy about For best results follow these guidelines:
Make sure you body language is upright and authoritative.
Move to stand in front of the student you want to correct.
Make and hold eye contact for an extended amount of time until it becomes uncomfortable
Make sure your face is serious (even if what they have just said or done is hilarious)
When you say “No” make it a little quieter and firmer than your normal speaking voice.(who is scarier, The screaming and shouting mother constantly scolding her kids or the quiet psychopath living next door?)
Maintain eye contact for a short time after the “No” make sure they understand you are serious.
A good “no” is only down to experience so practice it in the mirror, make you sure you can be clear to your students when you are happy go lucky TEFL teacher and when you are unhappy with their behaviour.
3 strike and your out!
Here are the Tips are learnt on my TEFL training, Use your white board to run a 3 strikes and your out system. If a behaviour is unacceptable then simply write the students name on the board awarding them one point and warn them that 3 points results in them leaving the classroom and having to explain to their parents (who normally pay a lot of money for English lessons) what they did wrong. You can even run a second 3 strike system for misdemeanours such as speaking their native language in class or speaking whilst you are speaking. Here the punishment can be a little lighter such as written homework or getting them to speak in front of the class for a 2 minutes on a subject you choose. You decide which they would be more uncomfortable with at set the punishment when awarding the first point.
Let students tell you the rules
The last tip I learnt has been a god send over the years. In one of your first classes (maybe not your first) start the class by splitting the students in to groups, give each group a large piece of paper and ask them to design their own list of rules and subsequent punishments for their English class. Once they have completed the task they then get to present their ideas to the groups. You can then finish the exercise by getting the students to pick the best list of rules and put them on the wall as the new class rule. If you are clever, whilst they are working you can move around the class giving suggestions that you would like on the list and you will find most will gladly accept your suggestions. This task is wonderful because 99% of the time the students take the task seriously and design a pretty good list of rules. But the real key is that they buy into the whole process and in later classes you will start to see them policing each other and 'tell each other off' for breaking the rules before you have time to notice. And most importantly the boundaries are absolutely clear so now it is easier to be consistent, which is the golden rule!
So the rule and tips are pretty simple to put in to practice and pretty effective. If you have boundaries and are consistent, have a good No working for you, get your students to set their own rules, and finally enforce a 3 strike systems then you are a long way down the road to having a nice controlled class of students who listen to you. The only other tips are to remind you not to take it personally and ,if your not sure, to apply commons sense. It works wonders!