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This is how our TEFL graduates feel they have gained from their course, and how they plan to put into action what they learned:
Large ClassesWhen teachers are faced with large classes they begin to agonize about how they will teach. It?s tempting to let the classes become teacher heavy and turn into lectures. If all of the lessons are like this it can be problematic, as opportunities for students to practice and use the language are limited. Large classes are viewed as challenging and off-putting. However, this does not need to be the case. Large classes are a challenge but there are many positive aspects to such classes. One of the biggest benefits is the energetic nature of such classes. With so many students there are lots of opportunities to get people to work together, discuss and benefit from the variety of influences.
I spent some time trying to assure students that learning can and should be significant. I encouraged the students to find out what they were interested in and taught about the topics in English. At the same time, they were learning English and getting information about what they liked. If they constantly read about one topic, they would be more familiar with the vocabulary words frequently used to talk about that subject. It was a new notion for most students and I knew I would have to guide them carefully in the class so they could understand personalized learning that I was trying to help them to attain.
Putting together lesson plans for large classes could be challenging for me at times. I designed several class periods based on pop culture issues. I chose an article from the textbook about movie stars. Before the reading, we discussed different topics about Hollywood. During the reading, I explicitly showed them how I read an article and what I would do if I did not understand the vocabulary words. I told students to keep in mind that we were learning information as well as English at the same time. We did not have to know every single word in order to get new information from our reading. I would circle words and check with the dictionary either during or after reading.
At the beginning, it is important to limit the topic yet still give students freedom to choose
the topics they prefer. I told them if they were interested in modern technology topics, they should continue to read more and find out more. If they were not interested in the topic, they should find other topics.
In Georgia, I don?t think there is such a thing as a syllabus. In order to guide students through a new way of learning English, I had the control of the topic yet students still had choices within the topic. At the end of the semester, when students felt more comfortable about a different way of learning English, they can choose whatever topics they are interested in. In my classroom of 40 students, we had the same course book guidelines to follow yet we were studying topics of their choice.
One of the foremost troubles we can face is that some students will conceal themselves, taking cover within smaller groups. The implementation of a task-based syllabus could enhance those students? eagerness to take part in the different learning activities. Everyone should take an active part in their own sub-groups. This experience will later become an important asset in the students? learning process.
English language teachers should design and implement activities helping students improve their overall competence in English. However, we should keep in mind that every student is a single case, with their own previous cultural background. We should be aware of this fact, especially when dealing with large classes. Creating a comprehensive syllabus and allowing the students to take active part in the learning process is vital. We should enforce a much more comprehensive process syllabus, whose main feature has to be based on the fact that, whatever happens in the classroom should exclusively be determined by negotiations between teachers and students. This is, quite probably, one of the best possible ways to conquer many limitations found in large classes.