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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread May 23rd, 2009, 07:51 pm
teachingenglishmadeeasy's Avatar
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Default Your strategies for large classes

Hi guys,

I have a few large speaking classes. You wouldn't believe it, but, I have 22 students and only 50 minutes once a week. How do you get the students to be able to actively participate in class? What I mean is, how do you get the students, so many of them, to actually practice speaking with such a little amount of time?

I tend to put them into groups and have them do group work. I also have them use different templates that I usually create. Then, I try to have someone from the group, each group, stand up and present what they have.

Do you guys have any good recommendations?
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  #2 (permalink)  
Unread May 26th, 2009, 09:12 am
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Default Re: Your strategies for large classes

putting them into groups and monitoring (i.e. walk around and make sure they actually speak English!) is good. Don´t let them get into the same groups every time.
1.Try debates. Give them a subject with one group preparing PRO arguments and the other CON. Ideas on how to do it and what topics to use can be found at ESL Conversation Topics — Debate
The more controvoversial/outrageous the subject, the more fun the debates!
2. Party Games like Taboo or Apples to Apples are great for conversation classes
3. On the net, there are various ideas for ESL printable board games (mainly to teach grammar but as long as they´re talking...). Print enough copies so that groups of 2-3 students can play. Make sure you have enough pawns and dice.
Good luck!
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Jun 2nd, 2009, 01:00 pm
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Default Re: Your strategies for large classes

Someone asked me the same question on my website...but they have 40 people in their class. I can't imagine teaching that many students at the same time. The max I have ever done is 13. (...and I thought that was too much...Guess it could have been worse).

Here is the question and my suggestions. Hope it helps ya in some way.

How to teach a large class
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Unread Jun 21st, 2009, 01:13 am
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Default Re: Your strategies for large classes

Yes, I used to have classes of 60 students for many years. The classroom management technique is key. Well in my case, the rolls and columns are always teams that work together in most activities. Teams usually compete against each other. So in a class of 60, that's about 6 columns. Draw grids on the board that represent them. Give and deduct points according to performance. Also apply a bit of peer pressure when one member of the team is costing the others points. Always maker sure that one group doesn't lose a game by a large margin and challenge the losers to win the next time. Always worked for me- competition. Always do not forget the students at the back. Also catch people off guard and ask them questions. Call names at random, it keeps all alert. Correct homework by asking columns to swap books or papers and then write your answers on the board. It helps because they spot mistakes of others and learn double. Also if wrongly corrected, students will complain and it all shows they are learning. I could go on.
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Unread Jul 22nd, 2009, 03:15 am
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Red face Re: Your strategies for large classes

Hi everyone, I'm new on this site...(still don't know how to create my own message..). Thanks to you all for the good advice on how to teach large classes. I probably need your help too...I have a college class of 30 students in their twenties. I once gave them a game which worked really well with all other classes (The "Olympics" competition to teach comparatives/superlatives), but didn't work at all with them...I gave them board games, with just a little more success...We spend 3 hours together each time (once a week), so I have to find at least 1 activity to help them relax before we get back to the lesson (if possible, with some educational value; otherwise, just seeing them liven up would make my day...). One more thing about this class: the room is very small, so no possibility to do activity where students can stand up and move in the class....Please tell me how I could make it livelier (any games you can think of, that I could give them, without having to ask them to stand up...?). Thanks a lot in advance for your help!! (Just tried this morning -with another class, and in a big room...- the game "There is a.../ there are some...", and making a new country, ...worked really well!!! Thanks a lot!!!)

Last edited by PeachBlossom : Jul 22nd, 2009 at 03:18 am. Reason: Please help liven up large indolent class
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Unread Jul 25th, 2009, 08:00 am
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Cool Re: Your strategies for large classes

Quote:
Quote PeachBlossom View Post
Hi everyone, I'm new on this site...(still don't know how to create my own message..). Thanks to you all for the good advice on how to teach large classes. I probably need your help too...I have a college class of 30 students in their twenties. I once gave them a game which worked really well with all other classes (The "Olympics" competition to teach comparatives/superlatives), but didn't work at all with them...I gave them board games, with just a little more success...We spend 3 hours together each time (once a week), so I have to find at least 1 activity to help them relax before we get back to the lesson (if possible, with some educational value; otherwise, just seeing them liven up would make my day...). One more thing about this class: the room is very small, so no possibility to do activity where students can stand up and move in the class....Please tell me how I could make it livelier (any games you can think of, that I could give them, without having to ask them to stand up...?). Thanks a lot in advance for your help!! (Just tried this morning -with another class, and in a big room...- the game "There is a.../ there are some...", and making a new country, ...worked really well!!! Thanks a lot!!!)
Hi Peach and welcome!

With a class that size, I'd say, if you are aiming for an activity, go outside and incorporate their immediate surroundings with whatever you are teaching them. Change the atmosphere up. Move the desks out of the room one day. If you have them guessing, you will be able to keep their attention. I've done this a few times and it has worked wonders!

Also, perhaps, you could tell us a little more about your objectives. Then, we can really get you going!

Ralph
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  #7 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 25th, 2009, 11:41 am
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Red face Re: Your strategies for large classes

Hi Ralph, and thanks for your message!!

Actually I wish I could have done more things, but there are not many alternatives in terms of place and different environment (the students can re-arrange the seats, but it takes a lot of time, and we still don’t have much room). I just tried this week a game that worked well with the class (the class is divided in 3 rows. The students in the first row read a sentence and have to whisper to the next student…and so on, the last student has to shout the sentence correctly), they went wild, you can’t imagine how I felt when I saw them so excited, for the first time!! But I’m just afraid this is a one-time situation.

The college students are generally below standard. This class is supposed to have an Intermediate level, but the topics/the vocabulary they’re supposed to learn are too difficult for them to be able to express themselves fluently. So this is my challenge: adapt the lesson to their level and make it interesting enough not to lose my students, while trying not to oversimplify the notions they’re supposed to study. I often use pictures to illustrate the vocab, but it’s still difficult to get them make full and correct sentences (this could be the subject of another thread…).

I’m aware that they’re not the only ones to blame, my teaching methods certainly need to be changed. I probably tend to stick to the book too much, I haven’t managed to find the right way to make a “serious” topic become more interesting and appealing…

Can I ask you what kinds of activities involve the students guessing and most importantly, how you do that (any practical tips…), because I think it’s like telling a funny story….some people do it very well, while some others…

Thanks again for your answer, Ralph!!
Hope to hear from you soon!!
Peach
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  #8 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 27th, 2009, 10:56 am
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Default Re: Your strategies for large classes

I teach 45 students for 90 minutes and it's a conversation based lesson.

I do a lot of pair work. I make the activities very simple, as I have mixed levels. However, I create a lot of room for expansion on dialogues and role-plays. So, more advanced or more adventurous students can do more with an activity should they choose.

I also have random pairs present in front of the class after they practice. That puts a bit of pressure on them to practice.

With larger classes, it's always important to simplify activities as best you can. Once the students are working and getting on with the activity, then you can add to it.
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  #9 (permalink)  
Unread Jul 28th, 2009, 10:59 am
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Default Re: Your strategies for large classes

Hello,

I've had classes like that before. I've found that splitting the class into fours with mixed levels in each group works the best. Those higher functioning students really do help the others when you are not attending to their group. I like to have students create role plays with the target vocabulary to present to the class. While each group os reading the others in class answer questions, that I come up with, on the role play being read. I hope this helps!

Andrew Lawton

Last edited by Eric : Jul 28th, 2009 at 09:11 pm. Reason: Please keep self promotion links in your signature only
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Unread Aug 2nd, 2009, 11:29 am
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Default Re: Your strategies for large classes

For primary students try these games (disguised language drills)

They have the benefit of including many students at once with minimum time waiting for a turn. They are designed to allow for frequent repetition of vocabulary or a sentence containing a grammatical structure that you would like to practise.

Relay Race ESL Game
Simple and easy to implement.

and

Kidnap Free ESL Game
More complicated in the full form but it can be done in two stages over different lessons. It's a hit with students.

Enjoy!
Shelley
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  #11 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 28th, 2012, 12:59 am
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Default Re: Your strategies for large classes

Does anybody have any suggestions for my situation?
I regularly have to do short games (10-15 minutes) as part of ceremonies and events for the entire primary school. This means I have 400 students, from grade 1-5, who need to do something in a short period of time and with minimal disruption to the flow of proceedings. It also needs to be appropriate for all children from 6-10 years old.
Additionally, I sometimes have to do 35 minute classes to single grades (50-90 Ss)

The events are held in a gym. I have access to materials, assistants and a PA system.

Games which have worked so far are:
Chinese whispers

Quizzes

Opposites

Fruit salad (Ss make a big circle and ask questions. Ss who say "yes" must change places. Teacher says "fruit salad" and everyone changes)

Simon says

Picture / text dictation.

Whats the time Mr Wolf

Harry Potter tag. (Voldemort tags someone and gets them to do something. Harry frees students)

That's about all I've done so far and I'm running out of ideas for activities that would be appropriate for this difficult situation. In some of the above activities if I don't have time to mix the grades I have to allocate bonus points for younger grades to make it even.

Thanks for your input
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  #12 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 28th, 2012, 03:58 am
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Thumbs up Re: Your strategies for large classes

try the ESL games site. They have lots of games for large groups. Good luck!
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  #13 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 28th, 2012, 08:14 am
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Default Re: Your strategies for large classes

There's also a bunch of ideas here: Dealing with Large Classes.

Not all will apply but some can certainly be adapted to different circumstances.
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  #14 (permalink)  
Unread Sep 30th, 2012, 03:27 am
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Default Re: Your strategies for large classes

A simple but effective activity for a class like yours is random role plays. I would split them into threes or fours to start. Then you have some basic role play elements on slips of paper and put into different pots. So, you might have a pot each full of celebrities, jobs, locations, food items, vehicles etc.

The procedure is simple. Each person in a group needs to draw an identity out of a pot (a celeb name, or a job) then each group can draw a couple of other elements like a location, a lexical item or a problem out of other pots. They put together what they have and create a brief sketch.

So for example one group of three would draw three identities, maybe they would get Lionel Messi, a barber and a taxi driver. Then a location - a police station, a problem - someone has lost a ring, and another lexical item - a bunch of bananas.

Give the students a few minutes to prepare while you are dealing with other groups, set them all performing, have a vote to see who was best, mix in some reformulated error correction and feedback and presto! you've got a solid speaking activity.

Good luck!
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  #15 (permalink)  
Unread Oct 4th, 2012, 09:34 am
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Default Re: Your strategies for large classes

Chris I like your game. We just have to bear in mind that we are talking about a range from pre-literate grade 1, up to grade 5 students with near native-proficiency.
I guess I could try to combine the grades a little so the stronger students in higher grades help the weaker students but there are big time constraints.
Apart from the obvious issues of dealing with 400 students, there are the more vexing issues of dealing with children at vastly different stages of both English proficiency and cognitive development. That's where I'm really getting tripped up. Finding something that ticks a sufficient number of boxes for all of these students is proving really hard.
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Unread Nov 5th, 2012, 08:46 pm
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Default Re: Your strategies for large classes

Groups are good, and rotation works well too.

Have you tried something akin to speed dating? Maybe that subject itself would be culturally unacceptable where you are teaching, but it could easily be modifed into job interviews, band auditions, team tryouts etc. Split your kids into 2 groups of 11, set them up in interview pairs, and then give them 2 minutes to speak to someone before moving on to the next person. Everyone gets some repetitive practice that way.
To avoid too much repetition, prepare some slips of paper with "special skills" and "special needs" that people have or are looking for.

Good luck, and Happy Halloween!
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Unread Dec 18th, 2012, 02:23 am
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Default Re: Your strategies for large classes

Your speed dating idea is great Chris. I used to have large classes too. Group work and group projects worked best for me. My secret was to make groups elect group representatives who then formed a jury. he jury had representatives from each group. Each group would present their project in front of the jury. The projects ranged from describing things, teaching about something, dialogue, to speaking contests. It helped my classes a lot and in some cases I had very little work to do. You'd be surprised how serious the jury is.
All the best.
Denis.
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