The Complete Guide To Teaching English To Groups
2019-03-21 Linda Dunsmore Alumni Experiences
Teachers who walk into a new classroom are never sure what type of students will be there. Many times, they will get a class that has a mixed ability. Some of the students may have a stronger grasp of the English language than others. An experienced teacher would know what to do. But what about an inexperienced teacher? This post will describe some of the steps and strategies that would assist them.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate James O.
“The teacher needs to arrive early to assess the environment of the classroom.”
On day one, the teacher does not need to use the text. The teacher’s job on the first day is to develop a rapport with the students. This would include getting to know the students, what they are interested in, what their level of English proficiency is, and listening for any difficulty in speaking.
Before the students arrive at the classroom, the teacher needs to arrive early to assess the environment of the classroom, that is to take a look at how the room is currently set up. Is it optimizing the area? Students need to be able to see the board; whether it is the writing on the board or to see objects the teacher may use during the class. Will the students in the back of the room be able to hear all instruction and any audio? There is never enough room to do everything you might want to do, but the teacher needs to take into account the space available. Have plenty of pencils and paper handy for class.
Start with a game!
The first activity should be about getting to know the students and the students to know you. Instead of just introductions, how about starting with a game? One game that can be used to get students thinking about English, regardless of the level, might be tossing a soft sponge ball around the room to engage students. The objective is to get students to introduce themselves. They can provide any information they are comfortable in sharing. When the first student finishes, they would toss the ball to another student. This would continue until all students have had a chance to share. The teacher should also be involved in this activity as students want to know about the teacher. During this activity, the teacher gets the opportunity not only to start building rapport with the students but can get a sense of what the students know or do not know.
At this time, it would be appropriate to give students a pre-assessment. This assessment might include grammar, reading, and listening. This can be done informally either in small groups or pairs, depending on the number of students. Students, if they do not know each other, can find out additional information about each other with a set of pre-set questions prepared by the teacher. This helps with the rapport of the classroom and get students comfortable with talking to one another. As the teacher is walking around monitoring the activity, the teacher can learn about the students’ level. The information gleaned from this exercise can be used to develop future assignments.
The next step might be to do a needs analysis with the students. This can be done individually while the rest of the class is doing an activity, depending on the type of class the teacher has. One of the first questions might be why are they taking the TEFL class? This would go to motivation. Ask the student what they want to practice the most. This would help with future assignments.
Identify your students
Teaching groups can be somewhat daunting, especially if you do not know the level. There is nothing that says the groups have to be permanent. Depending on the mix of students, there are strategies that will work to accomplish the criteria. You should anticipate the stronger learners in a group will probably finish the activity early. It is essential to have more material or activities ready. In the ‘weaker’ groups, the teacher could work with them in smaller groups, in pairs, or one-on-one. With these groups, the teacher would want to give more straightforward instruction and ask a lot of questions to be sure the students understand the instructions. Again, the teacher could give them extra work that would enable them to catch up with the rest of the class.
Mix stronger students with weaker students
As with any class, the teacher is going to have to have patience when working with groups and understanding the dynamics that different types of groups will have. You could have mixed groups by mixing stronger students with weaker students. One of the inherent problems is the stronger student wants to help but will try to do the work for the weaker ones. A way to overcome that potential problem is to assign positions in the group. One might be the recorder, another could be the timekeeper, and the leader would report progress to the teacher.
Are you ready to teach English abroad?
It does not matter the type of groups; the bottom line is that all students are capable of learning. It is the responsibility of the teacher to provide a safe environment for all to learn. To accomplish this, the teacher needs to establish a rapport and give the students what they need.
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