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Classroom Management

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Classroom management in the ESL / EFL classroom can be challenging at times because of a number of variables in English classroom management. However, one key element of classroom management remains the same: The desire to communicate in English. This article discusses the challenges of classroom management that occur in one form or another in most ESL / EFL settings. Also provided are a number of suggestions to deal with these issues. There is also an opportunity for teachers to learn from each other by contributing your own experiences in classroom management, as well as tips for effective classroom management.

Classroom Management Challenges Common to Most ESL / EFL Settings

  • Classroom Management Challenge: Students find it difficult to participate because they don't want to make a mistake.

    Classroom Management Tips:

    • Give examples in (one of) the native languages of the students. You're sure to make some mistakes, and use this as an example of willingness to make mistakes. This classroom management technique should be used with care because some students might wonder at your own language learning capabilities.
    • Break students up into smaller groups rather than conducting discussions as a large group. This approach can lead to more classroom management issues if the classes are large - use with care!
  • Classroom Management Challenge: Students insist on translating every word.

    Classroom Management Tips:

    • Take a text with some nonsense words. Use this text to illustrate how you can discern general meaning without having to exactly know each and every word.
    • Conduct some consciousness raising about the importance of context to language learning. You can also discuss how babies absorb language over time.
  • Classroom Management Challenge: Students insist on being corrected for each and every mistake.

    Classroom Management Tips:

    • Establish a policy of correcting only those mistakes that are relevant to the current lesson. In other words, if you are studying the present perfect in that particular lesson, you will only correct mistakes made in present perfect usage.
    • Establish a policy of certain activities which are correction free. This needs to be a class rule so that students don't begin correcting each other. In this case, you'll have another classroom management issue on your hands.
  • Classroom Management Challenge: Students have varying levels of commitment.

    Classroom Management Tips:

    • Discuss course objectives, expectations and homework policies at the beginning of each new class. Adult learners who feel this is too demanding can make their objections known during this discussion.
    • Do not go back and repeat information from previous lessons for individuals. If you need to do review, make sure that the review is done as a class activity with the objective of helping the entire class.
Adult English Classes - Learners Speaking the Same Language
  • Classroom Management Challenge: Students speak in their own language during class.

    Classroom Management Tips:

    • Use a donation jar. Each time a student speaks a phrase in his / her own language, they contribute to the fund. Later, the class can go out together using the money.
    • Give students some of their own medicine and shortly instruct in another language. Make a point of the distraction this causes in class.
  • Classroom Management Challenge: Students insist on translating each phrase into their own tongue.

    Classroom Management Tips:

    • Remind students that translating places a third 'person' in the way. Instead of communicating directly, each time you translate into your own language you need to go through a third party in your head. There is no way you can keep up a conversation for any length of time using this technique.
    • Take a text with some nonsense words. Use this text to illustrate how you can discern general meaning without having to exactly know each and every word.
    • Conduct some consciousness raising about the importance of context to language learning. You can also discuss how babies absorb language over time.

Help Others with Classroom Management

Please use the following form to contribute your own experiences and tips for classroom management. You can learn from other teachers, while providing valuable insight for other teachers who are dealing with similar situations.

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