Published 24th February 2016
Imagine this: You, a whiteboard and 45 expectant 14-year old faces staring at you.
Scared? Excited? However you feel about this, the fact is that it is a real situation for many TEFL teachers.
As TEFL teachers we are expected to be able to think on our feet and take whatever is thrown our way, so we find ways to deal with even the most trying scenarios. Of course, there are a few obvious challenges with dealing with classes of more than, say, 20 students, such as:
How do I give everyone individual attention?
How can we do games or activities without descending into chaos?
Is discipline even possible?
These are all legitimate concerns, and we like to help you out – because we’re nice like that – so here are our 5 top tips to help you deal with large classes.
1. Be organised
The best way to deal with big classes is to be prepared. When you walk into the classroom, you should know exactly what you want to happen during the lesson and how it will happen. This includes not only knowing which activities are going to be done, but also how they are going to be carried out.
2. Establish a routine
Establishing a routine allows you to create order in what could be a chaotic situation. If there is a set routine that your students are aware of, there will be less need for giving out instructions as your students will already know what they need to do and where they need to be. Though this will be difficult to set up at the beginning of the term, it will be worth it once it is in place.
3. Mix up the activities
If there are a lot of students in the class, it is easy for them to get distracted. By making sure that the activities done in class cover a range of learning methods and groupings, you will help your students stay focussed and stay interested. Using audio-visual materials is especially helpful as all your students can be focussed on the material at the same time.
4. Use the students
It can be quite difficult to control a large class of students simply because you are one person and they are many. There will be students sitting at the back of the class who may not be aware of what is going on at the front of the class and it can seem impossible to hold everyone’s attention all at the same time. Having more than one teacher is the obvious solution to this problem, so utilise your students by getting them involved in tasks which the teacher usually does – like handing out worksheets, collecting homework, doing the register.
5. Take advantage of the size
Having more students in your class can seem like more of a challenge than an advantage, but there are certain activities which work better with more students. Team games, songs and drama can be much more effective and enjoyable when you have a lot of students to engage with.
Large classes can be challenging but if you use it to your advantage and are adequately prepared, you’ll find that teaching large classes isn’t as daunting as you thought.