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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 5th, 2010, 12:44 am
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Red face 140+ young adult student activities

I teach in ESL in China and My class sizes just doubled from the completely unmanageable 70 student classes to auditorium style 140 student classes. The students are all girls about 18-20. My job is to teach 'oral english' which means I need the students to talk, but I have tremendous difficulty with everything from getting them to read the distant chalkboard from the back of the auditorium (that's right chalkboard) to hearing when a single student addresses the class-they are often very far away and the room has rather poor sound dynamics. Is there anything y'all suggest to have them talk amongst themselves? I've tried many things...scenario role play, survey questioning, writing a story and telling it to neighbors, etc...with only marginal success because there is a wide range of skills between the individuals. Keep in mind that multimedia is not an option.

I'm about to just surrender and kill my voice every day lecturing on grammar and pronouns, but I would love to actually teach them to produce and respond to english sentences. Any suggestions? Or is this just hopeless? If I wasn't such a tough guy I'd use this emoticon
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 5th, 2010, 07:13 pm
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Default Re: 140+ young adult student activities

I can't imagine how difficult that is! I sympathize with you! And I thought I had difficult classes...
Here are some ideas.
1. Is there any way to find out what their listening and speaking skills are? If that was done already, great. If not, you will need people to help you conduct some assessments. After you have that data for each student, break the class up into groups (maybe a maximum of 30 or 32 in a group), and each group contains students of one skill level.
2. You have some good ideas, but you will need to use them differently. Within each group of 32, make 8 subgroups of 4. Then have activities that 4 people do together. Survey activities are great. For those, maybe you use 4 subgroups of 8.
3. Because many students can't see the board, I suggest handouts. I know that's a lot of copying, but maybe that is what you need to use.
4. The school needs to install a sound system and give you a microphone.
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 7th, 2010, 08:18 pm
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Default Re: 140+ young adult student activities

Wow! That school is saving a lot of money :P

I'd follow bread baker's advice above and get them into groups and then smaller groups. By level would be best but that might just be a nightmare to try to assess and utilize. I guess it depends on how many hours this course runs. If it's long, it might be worth it.

One thought is to get 10-12 strong students to help you for extra credit of some sort. If you can work with them for 30 min. once a week before the lessons on what will be taught, how activities will be done, etc. Then you can have them monitor 2-3 groups each to get things going. You're going to need some Captains, General. This is a big regiment.

I teach large groups and the sad part is you're not going to be able to your best for them with those numbers and mixed levels. You'll have to keep everything very simple to start. Simple language, simple goals and once they're used to your style, you can begin to build in complexity.

I hope that helps a little. Good luck!
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Unread Apr 8th, 2010, 05:24 pm
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Default Re: 140+ young adult student activities

I like mesmark's idea of using 10-12 strong students. If you meet with them once a week, have them try out the activities then.
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  #5 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 12th, 2010, 12:32 am
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Default Re: 140+ young adult student activities

Yeah, the school is REALLY cheap. I'm very unhappy with them. They moved me from a room with media this semester and doubled the class size. My complaints aren't really understood (or maybe ignored) since I don't speak chinese well (I'm about as good as my average student is at English). I don't really have much help. I think assessing all those students would be a nightmare (though I'm expected to assess their oral english at the end of the term-suggestions for that would be welcome also).

Finding strong students isn't a problem though, since they sit at the front and eagerly participate in every activity, even engage me in conversation. Unfortunately, I have other classes with younger students running almost up until the start of these classes, and it would be difficult to meet with the students before class. The course is 2 back-to-back periods of 40 minutes once a week. It is hardly enough time to actually do anything.

If I meet with the stronger students what should I do? assign them a bunch of students and give them group activities? I might have difficulty explaining precise instructions.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 12th, 2010, 05:39 pm
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Default Re: 140+ young adult student activities

Try to plan the preceding classes so that they are dismissed on time. That will help a little.
I'd reward the strong and eager students by making them group leaders. If you try out a new activity with the leaders, give them a handout and go over it if possible. Practice the activity with the leaders. This way you know they understand it and can help the other students.
You may have to choose activities that are easy, just so all the students understand. In the future you can move up to ones that are a little more difficult.
If the leaders meet with you on their own time, you should reward them in some way. Make sure you thank them every time and make them feel appreciated. Praise them when they do a good job. For some people, this will mean so much to them that they'll do anything for you!
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  #7 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 20th, 2010, 12:58 am
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Default Re: 140+ young adult student activities

Thanks for your help guys. I guess my complaining finally landed, because they reduced my classes back down to 70 students. I'm still going to use the techniques you suggested. Thanks.
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  #8 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 20th, 2010, 02:14 am
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Default Re: 140+ young adult student activities

well, even small successes make us feel pretty good. At least you are used to 70 students at a time

Let us know how any of those ideas work out for you.
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  #9 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 20th, 2010, 03:25 pm
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Default Re: 140+ young adult student activities

Congratulations, Ebag! That's great news. You can use your strong students and have each one lead a group of 7 or so. The reduced class size will help the students learn a lot more, too.
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  #10 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 21st, 2010, 03:46 am
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Default Re: 140+ young adult student activities

Purchase a hand held loud speaker, similar to what a rowing coach would use. The humiliation should force the school to do something. Im sure the students realise that its nearly impossible for you to do much. It will be hillarious too.
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