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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Nov 23rd, 2006, 07:59 am
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Angry disruptive students FCE

Hello there,

Im an EFL teacher in Spain teaching 16-17yr olds FCE, as well as adult classes. the FCE class are due to take the exam in June 07.
I started at a new school in September and this FCE class. My problem is that they treat the lesson like a cafe, always gossiping and speaking spanish. One girl in particular is really bad, she only speaks english to read or answer questions, a real disruption. Its got to the stage where i tell them every week (lessons twice a week) to stop speaking spanish, and get in the habbit of practicing English in class. I have tried all sorts of positive reasoning, being nice, fun lessons. Also doing the stern teacher stuff, but they soon slip back into spanish chit chat. I know FCE can be boring, but its structured preperation for an exam. They now only seem to speak English when answering questions or reading. They do have the ability, its not like they are in the wrong level. I really dont know what to do with them, i think if one or two were taken out (class of 7) then the rest would be alright, There are constant distractions. Other teachers have said that this one girl was doing the same last year but her class mates usually told her to shut up, it seems this new class is made up of a few students who just want to catch up on gossip with their classmates, and as a result are bringing the rest down. I am starting to loath this class, and Im sure they dont like my lectures, but I feel really sorry for the 2 good students who are trying to learn and pass their exam, for their sake i really need to find an answer! It must be costing the parents a fortune.
Ive been teaching for 4 years, ive never had such a bad class before, especially an exam class.
Does anyone have any suggestions before I have to get my DOS involved, which id like to avoid if I can.
Thanks
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Nov 23rd, 2006, 09:08 am
Whistleblower's Avatar
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Default Re: disruptive students FCE

Well, firstly welcome to ESL HQ dudle and hope that this forum is of use to you.

I have never taught in Spain so am unable to answer your query directly. But I would like to know if this is your first time or year teaching in Spain? It is common for students to disrupt the class for attention, we can all agree with that. It is how you deal with the disruption which is key.

First of all you need a concrete plan or a rule list and the next time you go to lesson, preferably after the weekend you bring a big board with the rules for students to follow each day during class. If this is not adhered to, it calls for punishment. My idea with punishment is homework or a reward withdrawn during the month (such as a DVD, music etc). It is very important you stick with this because you must reward good behaviour (movie night, music night, bring you Spanish food night, etc). For example, if you speak and use your English effectively during lessons in the week you will be able to use your Spanish on a Friday to discuss ideas with the rewards etc. Or you could let them watch a movie or treat them to the cinema at the weekend.

At the end of the day it is important that the students enjoy their lesson and that they have a study schedule as well as a class rule board. This shows that you are in control and that you don't tolerate bad behaviour or unnessesary Spanish use, and you would withdraw rewards if this happens. If all else fails, students hate standing in the corridor or being told to leave early due to the bad behaviour.

Finally, I heard this from some friends. What would happen in Korea when you get hyperactive kids just disrupting the class and speaking Korean, is the teacher would have a drawer in the classroom with some letters in it. These letters were addressed to the parents of the children with the main message that their kid wasted their day as well as your hard earnt money at the language institute. The kids hated the letters and would completely transform into angels if the teachers threatened to send them to their parents. Usually three warnings then the letter. It dealt with many disruptive problems in the class and transformed the worst students into great students. But, as I said, this is what a friend done at an Institute and have no experience with this.

One last tip: Give a monthly schedule and evaluation for your students (I don't know if you do that as it isn't mentioned) but children need structure. If there is no structure, there is chaos. Try to enjoy your work as this will show in your classes and the students will find your classes great.
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Nov 24th, 2006, 04:23 am
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Clive Hawkins
 
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Default Re: disruptive students FCE

I had a PET class with a similar problem, although not as severe as you've described.

I gave them a particularly hard mock which 'the chatters' failed pretty miserably. I know that we shouldn't demoralize the students but in this case I felt it was justified. The result scared the hell out of them and each time they slipped back into 'chatting' in Italian I reminded them of how much work we needed to do to pass the exam. I also reminded them how much the course was costing as well as the enrolment fee for the exam - all of which was being paid by the parents.

It did the trick and they all passed. Maybe I was just lucky that time but you could give it a try.
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  #4 (permalink)  
Unread Nov 24th, 2006, 09:00 am
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Default Re: disruptive students FCE

Thanks for the advice Ill give those things a go.
They have an xmas exam soon, so ill make it tough!!
Its easy to get dispondant over one class, but my other classes make up for this unusually bad one! only 7 mths left with them!
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  #5 (permalink)  
Unread Nov 24th, 2006, 09:01 pm
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Default Re: disruptive students FCE

I hate being strict but I have to do it. In my first job, I had no idea how bad kids could be and they walked all over me. They could do it because I let them. I wasn't strict at all but I learnt from that and now I'm a lot better. Sure you will always get a joker here and there in the class but generally most of the students are well behaved. If only my middle school students would try harder then I would be happy
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