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usfbullace Oct 16th, 2012 07:19 am

Just another green ESL teacher in need of ideas
Hello everyone.
I am a teacher in China at a public middle school. My students range from about 10 to 12 years old. I have the same complaints as many do in the ESL world: my classes consist of about 70 kids each, I have no Chinese assistant to help me with translation or class management, and the kids have no motivation to pay attention in my class (no exam, no homework for my class). Out of each class there are about 10 students who genuinely want to improve their English. The rest of them are overworked (from 15 hour school days) and want to just have fun, talk to each other, or do there homework from other classes. When I put my foot down and start throwing kids out it might make the class stop talking but then I can't get them to do anything. I can't get them to write down anything, I can't get them to answer my questions.
I have games that I use and I am always searching for new ones. It's so hard to play a game with 70 students and get them all involved. This is a great site, many nice people it seems, but I am becoming bitter reading about some games because they are simply impossible to implement.
I can't:
Have the the students get up and move around (classrooms are so small, cramped). This includes any variation of formation.
Use handouts. If I did this I would have to make over 1000 copies of it and the schools not paying for it.
Do anything that requires writing. This one is a bit more flexible, but whenever I ask them to write something down only 10 of them listen, and when I keep pressing on for them to do the activity, I get poor results and waste too much time.
My school doesn't care what I do, it seems like they just want a warm foreign body to put in the room. I just hold myself to a high standard and really want to improve my own skills as well as help these kids develop their English. It has been really hard on me. I have been on the edge of quitting quite a few times.

So I want to know if anyone has any games/strategies/activities/ideas on how to engage these 70 kids (or a majority of them) and/or how to manage a class that big with a low morale. I really hope we can get a discussion going that helps other teacher going through what I am. I wouldn't wish this upon anyone. Nov 14th, 2012 05:29 pm

Re: Just another green ESL teacher in need of ideas
I am also in China but I am teaching at a very small school and only have Korean students. My largest class has 14 students in it. I can't imagine a class of 70 students. Nor the horror of being in charge of such a circus act, But what I get that for you anything would be better than nothing. So here goes my suggestions: You need to make friends with them, you need to know their names somehow, you need to boserve who are the kids that the others listen to and get those ones onto your side. You need to get to know what they are interested in, pop stars, movie stars, songs. You need to have something happening at the front of the class that they need to listen to. Maybe a karakoe machine. Or a video projector? I don't know what your resources are but if you told the kids this is what you wanted to do - you'd be surprised what they could bring, speakers and i-pad. You could bargain a chinese song for an english song. This might sound a bit crazy but if you can find something they want to do then you are one step in the right direction. More simple games are pictionary, have word cards, they have teams and draw the picture on the board. Card games, happy families is very popular - with all my kids, games that encourage kids to speak and ask questions. You could divide the kids into 7 groups of ten, one is a board game, one is cards, one is a movie on a laptop, one is drawing and making flashcards to test the others. One thing I know is that kids are competitive if you can identify the rivals and have them compete then the class will have its own leaders naturally. Divide and conquer. Befriend. Reward. Be smart, be interested. You may have 70 kids but believe me you don't actually have 70 kids who don't want to do anything - there will be 10 kids at least who want to work and learn. Remember strangers are only friends we havent met. for a bit of cheeseyness.

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