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Teaching large classes Typically teaching smaller classes is easier and less time consuming than teaching a large group. However, due to some schools lack of funds space, or teachers, many EFL schools only make use of large classes. In some schools, large classes may consist of up to 50 or more students, which can be a bit over whelming at times. In situations like this use the same principles used for teaching small classes, which means coming up with engaging activities that keep the class interested and participating in the topic at hand. While there are numerous challenges when it comes to teaching large classes, there are many coping skills and activities that you can use to make your job easier. Teaching large classes can be noisy due to the sheer number of students, you will however usually have someone who will answer a question put to the class unlike smaller classes with less students. The use of fillers and extra work to pass the time won’t be as necessary here than with smaller classes as exercises will most likely take a little longer to complete due to larger amount of students.
Meeting the individual needs of students can be problematic when there are so many students, here the teacher should make sure to convey work and assignments in a clear tone of voice so as to keep everyone on the same page and clear about what’s going on. Monitoring the students work while engaged in group/pair work can be a little tricky as well because of class size. Taking notes during class is great for this; it allows you to look back over your notes for class/student information while still monitoring the entire class. When dealing with large classes it can be difficult to keep track of things such as attendance, and class participation in regards to a particular student. To help resolve this issue the teacher might initiate a participation grade to be included in the final overall grade to encourage class participation and attendance.
As will sometimes in the ESL teaching world you arrive at your job only to find out that you have been switched over to another class and that the lesson you prepared for the day is null and void. This is something I encountered sometimes while teaching in vietnam
, and it can be very frustrating. Not only does it force the teacher to come up with some halfcocked lesson plan for a class they may have never taught. But it lessens the students learning experience as they now have an unprepared teacher conducting the lesson. Even though this is the case at times always prepare the day before as if the lesson is going to happen especially with large classes. Don’t wait until you’re at work getting the word from your supervisor letting you know if you’re on the regular schedule or not, often times if you get switch you may have to plan a lesson from scratch and you’ll just have to go with it. Also if using printed material, making copies prior to coming to class is a must as with large class sizes you will inevitably be forced to print a large number of copies. This can be time/resource consuming and you will want to make sure to get it out of the way as soon as possible.
One of the main jobs of any teacher is to help students, and answer any questions they might have be it before class, during class, or after class. When teaching a class of 50 plus students this task can become a little daunting, therefore it is always a good idea to give out your email so that any question not addressed in class can be discussed outside of class if need be, and save you a great deal of grief later on.
Baker, B. & Westrup, H. (2000) The english Language Teacher’s Handbook: How to teach large classes with few resources. London: Continuum.
Blatchford, P. (2003) A systematic observational study of teachers’ and pupils’ behaviour in large and small classes. Learning and Instruction, 13, 569-595.