7 Unexpected Situations in the EFL Classroom
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Expect the unexpected is definitely a piece of advice we’d give any of The TEFL Academy graduate students. Teaching is basically juggling a whole bunch of people and personalities while trying to accomplish a goal within a limited time period, so it’s understandable that sometimes things can happen in the classroom that you just, well, wouldn’t expect.
As teachers, we are trained to think on our feet, and you might find this is necessary not only when it comes to classwork. Let’s look at a few unexpected situations that you might encounter in English as a Foreign Language classroom and how you can handle them.
With Young Learners, you might expect a few tears or tantrums, but emotions play a very real part in adult EFL classrooms as well. Adult learners have their entire lives outside the classroom and sometimes a very small thing in the classroom can tip them over the edge. Stress might result in tears, a sensitive topic might lead to an emotional outburst, personality clashes can lead to heated words.
In these situations, it’s best to try and calm the situation as much as you can by diverting the topic, ending a discussion, or even asking a student if they would like a moment outside the classroom to compose themselves.
No matter how hard we try we can never control what our students are going to say! You might have a student who has unsettling political opinions they are unafraid of advertising, or perhaps a student who enjoys playing devil’s advocate in discussions a little too much for everyone’s liking. Some students can’t seem to help themselves from dominating conversations during the lesson.
As the teacher, we need to take control of situations like these to make sure everyone is getting their fair turn in the class. Think of yourself as a traffic officer who is directing the traffic of conversation. Feel free to use hand gestures if they work!
Read more: 5 Common Problems in the EFL Classroom
A permanent mistake
We often consider that technology might give us problems in the classroom, but many times it’s the traditional apparatus that can give us headaches. When using a whiteboard, make sure you always double-check that you are using a whiteboard marker that can be erased, rather than a permanent marker that cannot!
This is a surprisingly common occurrence and thankfully we’ve discovered a hack to help us. If you find your whole board is covered in grammar and vocabulary and it won’t rub off, you can clean it by writing over it with a (real) whiteboard marker and rubbing it all out. Voila!
Yip, we said it! Hopefully, this is only an occurrence with Young Learners, but it can happen! If your students are very young, they might have toilet accidents in the classroom, or they might be sick on their desks. This often happens if they are excited or if they are not aware enough of their bodies to get to a bathroom in time.
Unfortunately, as the teacher, it might well be your responsibility to clean it and the child up. This will mean entertaining the other students while you take care of the situation. If you are lucky, you may have an assistant who will be able to help you or you could have access to cleaning staff.
Now we know that you would never knowingly bring inappropriate teaching materials into your lessons. As TEFL teachers we pride ourselves on understanding the needs and interests of our learners. We get to know our learners so that we can make use of or adapt materials that will suit our particular learners. Sometimes, though, you might find you come across a text you didn’t read as thoroughly as you should have, or a video clip you didn’t watch right until the end (oops!). As you can imagine, this can lead to foul language, violence, substances or even nudity finding their way into your lessons for all to see and hear, often to your students’ amusement – and your embarrassment!
Luckily there is an easy fix for this problem: preparation. Make sure you have read every word of text and watched every second of any video you are going to using in your lesson. This is especially important if you are teaching Young Learners or teens.
Though many people may not realise this, teachers are not superheroes – we are normal people. We also get sick. Unfortunately, when this happens it can mean that another teacher has to fill in for us. What this means is that some days you might turn up at school and while you are getting ready for your class you’ll be told you need to teach two classes at the same time – yours and the class of your sick teacher. This is never a nice situation because you usually don’t have a long time to prepare for the lesson. Hopefully, you can still teach the lesson you were planning on teaching but it will no doubt be different in terms of classroom management because you will have twice as many students.
In this case, the best thing you can do is take a deep breath. Accept that your lesson might not go as well as planned, and try to think of ways you can make it easier for yourself. You should have a couple of no-prep activities up your sleeve which you can use with big classes that you can use in any situation.
Read more: TEFL Games for Large Classes
If you’re teaching in a classroom, it’s likely that you’ll need to commute to get to work. This could be a short bus ride or a long drive or even a walk. However you get to work, there is always the possibility of being delayed. This can mean then when you usually have twenty minutes to organise yourself for the lessons ahead of you, you might only have five. Or when you do eventually get to the school you might find the photocopier is being used by someone else or the computers are not working. In other words, you are walking into your lesson with a plan but few materials.
Again, don’t panic. If this lesson isn’t your best lesson, that’s okay. Use the activities that you know work in your classroom, even if that means you can’t do some of the activities that you had planned. Also, try to move towards more paperless lessons so that if this happens it’s not the end of the world!
We always say that teaching English as a Foreign Language is one of the most exciting jobs we know. It’s the nature of the job that each day is different and some days that isn’t necessarily a good thing! But don’t let that deter you, because no matter what the TEFL life can throw at you, we know you’ll be able to deal with it!
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LAST UPDATED: 19th July 2022
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- proof of your identity
- proof of your home address
- any information that we reasonably need to locate the information you have requested (for example details of the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD offices or staff that you have had contact with and when)
We will not start looking for your information until we receive all of the above. In order to submit your request, or for help making a request, please contact us.
Rights concerning the processing of your personal information
- Right to restrict processing of personal information
- In some situations, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of your personal information. We may restrict your personal information by temporarily moving the information to another processing system, making the information unavailable to users, or temporarily removing published information from a website. We may also use technical methods to ensure the personal information is not subject to further processing and cannot be changed. When we have restricted processing of personal information, this will be clearly indicated on our systems.
- You can require us to restrict processing in the following circumstances:
- You are concerned that the information we hold about you is inaccurate. You can ask us to restrict the information until we can determine whether the information is accurate or inaccurate.
- We are processing your personal data unlawfully and you do not want us to delete the information but restrict it instead.
- We no longer need the information for the purposes for which we collected it, but they are needed by you for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.
- You have objected to the processing (see below), and we need to decide whether the legitimate grounds we have to process the information override your legitimate interests.
Processing you think is unlawful
- If you tell us that you think we are processing your personal information unlawfully, but you do not want the information to be erased, you have the right to require us to restrict the processing of that information.
- We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the processing is unlawful, and may also ask that you provide evidence to support this view.
Processing of personal information you think is inaccurate
- You can tell us if you think the personal information we are processing about you is factually inaccurate. You can require us to restrict how we use your personal information until we can verify the accuracy of the information. We will ask you for an explanation about why you think the information is inaccurate, and may also ask that you provide some supporting evidence of the alleged inaccuracy.
- If we find that the personal information we are processing about you is inaccurate, we will take appropriate steps to correct the information.
Personal information is no longer needed by ELEARNING FUTURES LTD but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, ELEARNING FUTURES LTD is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD,
21-22 Old Steine,
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.