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Advantages and Disadvantages of Teaching Large Classes

Advantages and Disadvantages of Teaching Large Classes | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Once classes are considered, their sizes are the first item that comes to mind since they are held in different sizes and scales. As a definition, Class size concerns with how many students are present in a classroom learning session. However, in terms of several students in a class, it may range from just one student, such as one-to-one individual classes, to 100 students. The average student number in a class is somewhere around 20 to 30 students per class which are different across the countries. As mentioned, the number of students in a class has always been variant but even from Socrates’ time up until now the importance of student population in the learning process has been in no doubts so that Socrates used to enroll only between 6 to 8 students in a single class to pressure on small class efficiency (Power, 1966). Ever since and maybe before, there has been a diverse debate on the advantages and disadvantages of large classes.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Ebrahim D. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.


To name some advantages of large classes, students are less pressured and more energetic in such large classes since the less individual activity is performed and more group work is done. Additionally, although not may every person mention his/her opinion, in large classes diversity of opinions is extremely high and it depends on how teachers employ such an opportunity. Moreover, in this capitalistic world, cost efficiency and being economic is a very fundamental issue that large classes serve this goal perfectly. Associating with more people is another opportunity that large classes provide for students whereas in the case of small classes such opportunities are perceptibly less.

big class

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On the other hand, there are some disadvantages either. In that, large classes may bring about a low intimacy level among teachers and students since the teacher, and even students themselves, do not have enough quality time to get to know each other better. Besides, this may lead to disengagement and low cooperation levels as well as fewer students’ recognition. Furthermore, this undesirable move might not stop there and might cause many dropouts. In this case, there are also many distractions to deal with in large classes that rise to be problematic while in small classes those are easier to cope with as the teacher has the time to attend to all of the students once they encounter some learning issues.

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How large classes are evolved to fit the 21st-century classes?

However, In respect of the view that there are no absolute advantages and disadvantages but rather there is a mixture of them for large and small classes, there is a try to put the advantages of large classes with those of small or one to one classes to enhance the productivity of the learners. For example, to name a few cost efficiency and being economic, accompanied with being able to associate with as many students as possible and many more, goes hand in hand with picking up other possible advantages, such as the classes being self-paced, which are suitable for this era that everyone is occupied with so many things and making arrangements is difficult.

Therefore, in the 21st century, while the demand for traditional classes as described above has remained intact, urgency for Massive Online Open Classes (MOOC) has rapidly emerged that altered the class size definition to meet students’ demands and needs as well as lifetime learners’ in this day and age. To achieve massive learners then, communication, as the key to learning, in MOOC classes is through Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and unlimited while in traditional classes it is through physical presence and limited to those present students in the class. The students in such online classes are more active since their major learning responsibility is put on their shoulders which gives them independence simultaneously. This is not the exact case when it comes to traditional classes as they are guided and instructed by teachers and they have more passive roles.

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All in all, as it is mentioned, in the 21st-century classes, whilst large classes’ advantages and disadvantages have been utilized to create classes that fit 21st-century learners’ needs and demands, their size definition has also been altered.

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