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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Mar 9th, 2010, 05:13 am
Young Brit in China
 
Join Date: Feb 23rd, 2010
Location: Jinan, China
Age: 35
Posts: 9
Hellosir is on a distinguished road
Angry Extremely difficult class - stress levels soaring

Just to fill you guys in on the situation, I teach in China and have nine classes per week (2 periods each), this is the only class that continues to cause my endless amounts of pain and torment. Last semester I helped teach an Australian certificate for English ( similar to IELTS), I taught the class for 6 hours a week, according to a book with set topics as well as some of my own ideas.

I tried to mix my ideas with the book to liven them up a bit, (including designing A4 drawings, teaching vocabulary to explain them, with one student describing and the other drawing which proved SUPER popular with all my other classes) but nothing.

Its not one individual in particular but just any activity which works well in all of my other classes and gets a big buzz just crashes and burns with this class.

Last semester the year 1 students of their major were divided into four classes. In the class I taught were 30 students in the class, all of whom received the lowest scores in the entrance exam (total was 150, pass was 100, they got 30-60) for the certificate and were put into the same class. They are all aged between 17-20.

This semester all of the students have been divided based on their student iD and not their English ability, but I've still got 10 of the 30 students from my class last semester, and the effect is the same.

They basically did not want to study English but have to as part of their major. They have been forced to study reading, writing, speaking and listening 5 days a week for 4 months last semester. They are now lethargic and can't be bothered to do anything, and I have to drill them several times to make them actually do what I tell them. I pour huge amounts of energy into the classes, using all the things that work in my other classes, but activites that last 20-30 mins in another class can die in about 5 minutes in this class.

I can't go through another semester of feeling drained and depressed after failing to have an impact on this class.

Does anyone have any suggestions?
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Mar 9th, 2010, 01:39 pm
I Teach English in Italy
 
Join Date: Feb 20th, 2010
Posts: 3
kellytrainer is on a distinguished road
Default Re: Extremely difficult class - stress levels soaring

Hi, Hello

Boy do I know how you feel. I have 9 years teaching experience in Italy, and some classes can be just so challenging. I won't even go in to the particular torment I've been through but suffice it to say "I've been there."

First, you must know that the problem is not you or your teaching abilities. Sometimes it helps to hear that from another teacher.

I have a few questions for you.

1) What is the end-result of this course?(ie what does the administration expect from you?)

2) Are there any "interest trends" in the class? (ie can you build your lessons around themes that interest this group specifically?)

3) Have you got internet access in class?

There are many more, but let's start here and see where it goes from there.
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I teach English in Italy.
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Mar 9th, 2010, 04:00 pm
eslHQ Zealot
 
Join Date: Aug 24th, 2006
Posts: 203
bread_baker is on a distinguished road
Default Re: Extremely difficult class - stress levels soaring

If the students do not want to study English, do not feel guilty about the situation. The best, most creative and skilled teacher would still have trouble in a class like that. The school has made your situation worse by not grouping students according to their English ability. I hope that before the next term you talk to the administrator and ask that the school not do that again. Grouping by ID number!!!! - my boss would never do that in a million years!!!
Kelly has a good idea. You can survey the students about their interests. Maybe give them a written survey. It would be nice to have written responses you could read privately.
You have a multi-level class, and you should group the students according to ability. I've taught multi-level classes before, and I always designated areas for the students to sit, i.e. "Advanced students sit over there." Advanced students will be bored if you give them something too low, and Beginning students will panic if you give them something too high.
Look at the things you used before, and ask yourself if each one is low/medium/high.
It may be very difficult to find a book that works well in a multi-level class.
If your school has a computer lab, that could be a big help to you. You could put each student on a computer, and give different assignments to different levels.
I don't know how your students feel about games, but maybe some quality ESL games would help. You can look in the games forum. Let us know if you have other questions.
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  #4 (permalink)  
Unread Mar 9th, 2010, 04:13 pm
eslHQ Zealot
 
Join Date: Aug 24th, 2006
Posts: 203
bread_baker is on a distinguished road
Default Re: Extremely difficult class - stress levels soaring

What about drama, role plays or Reader's Theater? Role plays went over well (if not very well) with my Intermediate and Advanced students.
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  #5 (permalink)  
Unread Mar 10th, 2010, 08:03 am
Young Brit in China
 
Join Date: Feb 23rd, 2010
Location: Jinan, China
Age: 35
Posts: 9
Hellosir is on a distinguished road
Default Re: Extremely difficult class - stress levels soaring

Well
Quote:
Quote kellytrainer View Post
Hi, Hello

Boy do I know how you feel. I have 9 years teaching experience in Italy, and some classes can be just so challenging. I won't even go in to the particular torment I've been through but suffice it to say "I've been there."

First, you must know that the problem is not you or your teaching abilities. Sometimes it helps to hear that from another teacher.

I have a few questions for you.

1) What is the end-result of this course?(ie what does the administration expect from you?)

Nothing to be honest, just that I teach something that will improve their spoken English and give them a test at the end of semester. their department basically does not monitor what I do.

2) Are there any "interest trends" in the class? (ie can you build your lessons around themes that interest this group specifically?)

Superstars were quite popular. The main thing they want to learn about is "foreign culture" but that is so vague.

3) Have you got internet access in class?

No computer, no internet. Just a blackboard
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  #6 (permalink)  
Unread Mar 10th, 2010, 09:39 am
Young Brit in China
 
Join Date: Feb 23rd, 2010
Location: Jinan, China
Age: 35
Posts: 9
Hellosir is on a distinguished road
Default Re: Extremely difficult class - stress levels soaring

The thing is the students claim to "love" my lesson apparently, they did a teacher satisfaction survey last semester and out of 30+ students I got an overall rating of 97% (apparently most teachers get 70% and anything above 90% means supposidly means you're too soft) and after class they will say how much they enjoy my lessons, but I just never see the enjoyment when I'm teaching.

I'm thinking it could be down to the fact I'm used to big classes of 40-50, where drama/jokes/ have a bigger impact simply because there are more people. The only other class I have with so few students is Business English, and all those students have a really high level, so it could be down to the fact a) few students b) the 10/24 students I taught last year dampen the mood that the other 14/24 cant really shrug off.

Just to add to the confusion this is a women's college so 95%+ of the students are female.
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  #7 (permalink)  
Unread Mar 10th, 2010, 05:03 pm
eslHQ Zealot
 
Join Date: Aug 24th, 2006
Posts: 203
bread_baker is on a distinguished road
Default Re: Extremely difficult class - stress levels soaring

1. Do you have a projector and a laptop computer of your own? If you do, you can connect the two and project images onto the whiteboard.
2. If I had your class, I'd teach it as multi-level (see other post) and emphasize a variety of speaking activities, plus pronunciation and grammar.
3. Find out more about their interest in "foreign culture." What countries? Fashion, food, movies, movie stars, customs???
4. Try activities that your returning students did not have before with you. I would definitely try drama or role plays, because many women seem to have a desire to act.

Last edited by bread_baker : Mar 10th, 2010 at 05:04 pm. Reason: inserted word
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