domingo, 12 de setembro de 2010

Problems We Face 5 (Working with large groups)

This is a problem I had to deal with many years ago, but I do know that lots of English teachers live this reality every day. We cannot deny that teaching English to a large group is much more difficult than working with small classes or even with an individual student. This is why I searched on the Net about the subject in order to find ways to minimize the problem and once again I found some nice stuff in Check it out!

According to Marie Brown in the article "Problems of English Teachers Handling Large Classes", it is possible for teachers to overcome some of the problems with a little extra planning. As the most common difficulties in teaching large groups, she mentions the personal involvement once it's difficult for the instructor to spend an equal amount of time working with all students, the class activities which may require several class sessions to complete, and the class management because the instructor has to cope with distracting actions of individual students. Then, she gives some strategies for success including making students responsible for their own learning, for example, through assignements that require them to present their work teaching the class what they've learned, setting up reading groups (assign different numbers and have students join small groups), etc. I also read another article, this one written by Erin Schreiner. "How to teach English to large classes", brings some practical ideas to solve the problem, such as: The instructor should prefer checking students' comprehension with written instead of oral responses because in big groups it's too time consuming to listen to oral responses from all students; allow students to trade their papers with their classmates and ask the peers to make corrections and constructive comments; use small groups of 4 to 7 students and assign each group a different text for them to read and discuss. According to the writer If teachers engage in some time-saving and grouping practices that will reduce workload and allow students to engage in the literary conversations necessary to study English.

I'd also mention that working with large groups do have some advantages, especially when we talk about dynamic activities which are simply great when used to teach or consolidate a certain content. Teachers had better try to minimize the disadvantages of teaching English to big groups but always try to take advantage of the number of students in class when thinking about a dynamic or different activity to use in class. It can be fun! Think about it!

See you, tomorrow, colleague!

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