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Teaching English is a challenge, teaching large classes is the challenge of all challenges!
Teaching English is a challenge, teaching large classes is the challenge of all challenges! By large classes, I’m talking 30 students and above. In fact in the TEFL world, generally anything above 20 is regarded as large and unproductive. In an ideal world everyone would teach smaller classes so students get the attention they deserve (and for the peace of the teacher’s mind and sanity!), but in some countries this is just not possible. So it’s our job being the ever so flexible and creative TEFL teachers that we are to make the best of what we have got. You will need to be super alert, resourceful and adaptable to cater to the needs of your students. Often you will be teaching mixes classes of different abilities and learning styles. You will need to find ways to activate quieter students and assess your students’ level. All the while you will have to keep the momentum and fun in the class to keep all of your adoring students in the English Zone…quite a juggling task isn’t it?
Here are some activities to point you in the right direction:
1. Name of Game: The Hot Seat
English Skills: Speaking, Listening, Vocabulary
Objective: Communicate words without saying them
2. Name of Game: Guess Who / Guess What
English Skills: Speaking
Objective: Form questions and identify a person or thing
You may choose to prepare a handout of possible questions to get things started and help weaker students. Some possible questions are: ‘Are you famous?’ ‘Are you a man?’ ‘Are you a woman?’ ‘Are you an actor?’ ‘Are you a singer?’
** Music can add to the fun and tension of this game. Add recorded sound effects such as a ticking clock, Jeopardy, etc. to create a better atmosphere for the game.
3. Name of Game: I Went to the Market
English Skills: Grammar, Speaking, Vocabulary
Objective: Use memory to reinforce past-tense structure and focus on correct use of articles
Variation: you can change the game to practice all kinds of verb tenses and vocabulary!
4. Name of Game: Hold them up!
English Skills: Listening, Reading and Vocabulary
Objective: For students to revise vocabulary.
Variation: Use pictures for young students who haven't learned the alphabet
Variation: You could split the class into three and write the vocabulary three times on the board (in three sections). Different students are selected each time and have to circle the word on the board.
5. Name of Game: Word Challenge
Number of Students: Teams of 4-10
English Skills: Listening, Speaking, Spelling
Objective: One team says a word and the other tries to spell it
Students will start to look up difficult words to stump the other team! Remember to do a follow-up assignment for new words used such as teaching the class the meanings and having students make sentences with the new words. N.B. This could be in a different lesson so you may want to take a note of vocabulary covered.
Top tip for teaching large classes: One method of teaching large groups like this is the ‘monitoring’ technique. To do this:
I would also set up a points system for each team – when they win an activity they get a point for their team, doing homework equals one point. Perhaps failure to do homework means they lose one point.