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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Mar 10th, 2013, 01:09 am
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Default Need help on my very large tricky classes!

Hello,

I could really use some advice and ideas on how to teach my classes.
I am in my first ever tefl position in a Chinese school. My students are 15-16 yrs old, I see each class once a week for 45 mins and I have 16 classes in one week. My classes are very large at an average of 80 students in each lesson. They are in small classrooms and as such I am not in a position to move the desks or to be getting them up and moving around - the aisles are not wide so although it might be possible to do board run game with a portion of the students at a time it would not be ideal. Pair work is probably the easiest way to get them working together - or possibly groups of four at the most. I don't think I'm allowed to take them outside either.
The students themselves are of varying levels of ability and confidence and for most of them their listening and speaking skills are not very good. If I write on the board they usually understand what I am saying but I don't want to have to rely on this. Even when using the most simple explanations for tasks I often get blank faces (I have a clear south English accent). The teachers here want me to focus on getting the students to talk (I am here to solely develop their oral skills) but with a class of 80 and only 45 minutes I feel like its near impossible to get everyone to talk confidently unless the majority of the lesson is choral repetition. I'm sure there must be ways around this but I feel really quite stuck on how to proceed.

Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thankyou in advance and thankyou for reading :-)
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 3rd, 2013, 04:12 pm
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Default Re: Need help on my very large tricky classes!

I have to say it is a very difficult task!
I have never had such a large class and since you need to develop their oral skills which seems impossible, if there is a big difference in their knowledge, my only suggestion would be to divide them into 2 groups of similar levels and make their seating arrangements according to that (putting the higher level on one side of the classroom, and a lower level on the other). Find activities that can be done as a group and give a more difficult task to the higher level group. Use activities with short texts, maybe try "Simon says"...
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Unread Apr 4th, 2013, 08:14 am
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Default Re: Need help on my very large tricky classes!

I am in a very similar situation as you. Don't know what to do. I am researching it now. If they could at least get up an walk a bit you could do a "Find someone who....." activity. But I understand the predicament you're in. I am working in Hebei province of China and they don't understand the simplest of instructions. We can help each other out if its possible. YOu are teaching in China. We are both farely new teachers. And it can be quite daunting.

My name is Michael. Im 28 years old. I am from Canada. My wife is CHinese and we live in Renqiu, Hebei province.
Hope to hear from you soon!

Best regards

Michael
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Unread May 21st, 2013, 11:32 pm
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Default Re: Need help on my very large tricky classes!

try choral drills - something to involve the whole class.
Or songs (e.g. the ABC song).
When singing a song, you can divide the class into groups and give each group a word from the song, I tried this with the Calendar Song assigning one month to a group of students - they listen for their word and then have to jump or something.
Try Simon Says.
Some flashcard games don't require the students to move: Divide the class into groups. All students sitting behind each other form a group. Show a flashcard to the 1st student in each row. They have to whisper the word to the student behind them etc. The last student has to stand up and say the word. The fastest group with the correct word wins. Ideas for flashcard games under ESL-Kids - Flashcards, Worksheets, Games and Songs
Or check youtube for genkienglish. There are ideas for large groups. Although they practice in gyms a lot maybe you can find something there.
Good luck.
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Unread May 23rd, 2013, 11:41 am
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Default Re: Need help on my very large tricky classes!

80 students in a class? That's insane. Is it even legal?

I see some people have given you good advice so I don't know what else to add honestly. I have a question though: why don't you get a job in a different school? Seriously!
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Unread May 31st, 2013, 12:52 pm
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Default Re: Need help on my very large tricky classes!

Wow! That sounds difficult! 80 students to a class, 45 minutes, 16 classes a week! They expect miracles from you!

Yes, I agree with the above post. Probably choral work is the best. Divide the class into two, one half to ask a question, one to answer it. Swap it around a little. E.g. one half to say "how are you?" the other to reply "I'm fine, and you?". This might be a little boring for you as a teacher and not really the best way to teach, but at least they would be talking to each other!! In your limited circumstances, I don't think you have much of a choice!
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Unread Jun 4th, 2013, 01:22 am
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Default Re: Need help on my very large tricky classes!

The following response was adapted with permission from You Can Teach's TESOL course: You Can Teach TESOL and Recruitment in China : Home

Hi SooperHexx,

You are in a tough spot. I taught in China for many years, and taught classes of up to 60 students while in Harbin (you may laugh at this small group!). I was in much the same position as you; only seeing them once a week and required to 'improve their speaking and listening'. I agree with you it is nigh-on-impossible to make any real progress, and your time would be much better spent on reading instruction (which requires speaking and listening skills to be used, and ultimately improves them too). However, there are some things you can be doing to at least make sure they are getting SOMETHING from your classes.

My advice is to divide and delegate. There is no way you can give all of these students a chance to practice (discounting drills) unless you divide the class into smaller groups. By dividing the class into groups and allowing students to be the leader of each, you can have each group completing a game/activity simultaneously, while you move around keeping students on task and answering questions. The size of the groups will be determined by the nature of the activity, and the number of above average students you have (see below).

The next thing you need to do is assign each group a leader, and delegate some of your authority to them. The main determinant of who you make leader should of course be their level of English, but behaviour and standing amongst peers should also be considered. These guys will essentially be peer-teachers.

Before we look at some activities, it is important to remember that things will get noisy! However, as long as they are speaking English as they make noise, and quiet down when you ask, this is nothing to worry about.

Chinese whispers - great game you probably know well. Students don't need to move around, as they can simply whisper the word to the person nearest. I would suggest eight groups for this one, or just one group per column. You whisper the sentence (a variation of the target language obviously) to the students in the front row, then on your signal they whisper it to the back. Students at the back walk to the front of the class and tell you what they hear. Your group leaders should not participate, but rather help you manage the other students.

Word Division - A great game for listening/reading/speaking practice. Students are each given a small piece of paper with a word written on it (again, use your leaders to help you distribute). These words make part of the sentence you are teaching. For example, if you are teaching 'What time is it?" you would have 20x 'what', 20x 'time' etc. The words are shuffled before distribution. When each student has a word-card, you will call out a sentence with one word missing, e.g. "What blahblah is it?", and all students with 'time' need to stand up and shout 'time'! then have the whole class repeat the question, or have them say each word in turn (i.e. 20 kids stand up and say "What", next 20 "Time" and so on). Then have the students swap their cards and repeat.


***

Running a bit short on time and can't seem to think of any more activities at this point! Basically you can use any game/activity you come across. Just find some trustworthy students to help you manage them, and don't be afraid of a little noise!

Hope this helps!
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Unread Jun 6th, 2013, 07:14 am
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Default Re: Need help on my very large tricky classes!

Quote:
Quote Beepdabop View Post



Word Division - A great game for listening/reading/speaking practice. Students are each given a small piece of paper with a word written on it (again, use your leaders to help you distribute). These words make part of the sentence you are teaching. For example, if you are teaching 'What time is it?" you would have 20x 'what', 20x 'time' etc. The words are shuffled before distribution. When each student has a word-card, you will call out a sentence with one word missing, e.g. "What blahblah is it?", and all students with 'time' need to stand up and shout 'time'! then have the whole class repeat the question, or have them say each word in turn (i.e. 20 kids stand up and say "What", next 20 "Time" and so on). Then have the students swap their cards and repeat.


Hope this helps!
This looks like a game for some basic level students, primary school, perhaps?
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