Large Classes Teaching large monolingual classes is truly a real challenge for a foreign teacher. Teaching large classes where students are of varying levels and sometimes an inclusion of a ‘special child’ (at least one in each class) can be quiet taxing.
The responsibility that each student should be equally taught effectively and that those students will equally learn with the same amount of knowledge as the rest are quite a tall task.
I am teaching an Elementary class in a public school?in Japan and I teach an average of 35 students per class from Grade 1 to 6.
In Japan a foreign teacher or ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) in an Elementary school is accompanied by a japanese homeroom teacher in a classroom when the ALT teaches in his/her class.?The foreign teacher is the main teacher of english and the japanese homeroom teacher only stays at the back or helps the ‘special child’ with the activity.
The basic rule for an Elementary school education system is that all their students get an equal and fair knowledge, which is highly impossible, having kids
from different social status; those whose parents can afford to send them to english cram school or one-to-one english tutorials, those that learn english only from what the school provides once a week (per class), plus the ‘special child/children
’ and difficult kids (those with problems at home, suffer peer pressures, and other factors).
What to do and how to deal with large classes?
Each kid is special and different. Treatment to each student also varies. They have different attitudes, needs, moods, impression and reaction to english subject.
When I teach I make sure that everyone gets involved. All the activities that we do are designed for everybody. Race and competitions are done
in big groups, so those weak students can be coached and taught by their team mates. Shyness and low self-confidence can be avoided because everybody (without exemption) are trying and doing the exercise. I make
sure I play along with them and make fun of myself to encourage them to
try without the fuss of being anxious or worried if they are doing it perfectly or not.
The Engage Phase focuses more on fun review of all the past lessons (random questions), singing and dancing of songs related to the topic for the day or sometimes a little game with a stamp or sticker rewards. I always try to include the weak ones and ask them the easiest question; so that they can also get that ‘little reward’ we give during the warm-up activity. It is in those acts that I feel the weak gets motivation and inspiration to learn the language they don’t really like.
The Study Phase revolves more on learning the proper way of production, answering all their questions, and controlled practices until I feel that my students are comfortable with the phrases, vocabulary, and pronunciations.
All the visual aids I bring to class are colorful, catching and intriguing.
I make sure that I am aware of everyone’s weakness or area of difficulty in my class and I must deal with it with patience and diverse methods of repetitions. I put a lot of effort during this phase, so that my students will never feel bored, as this is the most important part where understanding, learning and production of the lesson develop.
The Activate Phase depends on the kind of activity, it becomes either competitive, if done in big groups or for fun if done individually, which means there is no right or wrong as long as everybody tries and do the activity.
Lessons held are really basic and simple the first time. To level up, the lessons are done two or three times more for follow u.s.to create challenge and build up the level of difficulty. To avoid boredom from excellent students or overwhelming the weak ones, I always try to balance and pace the degree of ease or difficulty, depending on the kids’ facial expressions and reactions. I always give priority in the preparation of different activities, and I make sure I don’t repeat or overdo them. Activities should be creative, interesting, motivating, challenging and most of all fun. Each activity should always bring enthusiasm to my students that even with their varying english levels, strong and weak alike will look forward to try and do it with fun.