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Here Below you can check out the feedback (for one of our units) of one of the 16.000 students that last year took an online course with ITTT!
This unit focusses on some of the most common problem situations that teachers might encounter and suggested ways to dealing with them.
1. First Lessons
In every new teaching position, a teacher will meet new classes for the first time, which are essential to establish rapport and set the tone for the rest of the course. There are two categories of new classes:
- New groups
- Existing groups
With a first lesson, teachers should not use the course book but try and use activities that:
- establish rapport between the students and teacher and in the case of new groups between the students
- Find out more about the students
- Find out about the students’ needs
- Find out the English level of each individual student
The activities suitable for these purposes are:
- Questionnaire / survey
- ‘Tell us about’
- Pass the ball
- Needs analysis
Warmers are fun, short, communicate activities to help inspire and motivate students and to get them to use English. They get students in the mood for English. They are even more useful if they can be linked to the study phase of the lesson. Typical warmers include hangman, Pictionary, tongue twisters and memory games.
3. Different levels
A big problem teachers face is a group where the students have different levels of English and even with a good level testing procedure can this be eliminated. Even if all the students of a group start with the same level, gaps in level can start to appear as some students learn more quickly than other. The teacher can deal with this by:
- Using different materials
- Using the same materials, but giving different tasks
- Doing nothing
- Pairing stronger students with weaker ones.
It is best to use a mix of the above solutions.
4. Large classes
Large classes can make it hard to involve all students equally or maintain control. There are several techniques that can help:
- Use worksheets
- Pair/group work
- Choral repetition
- Appoint group leaders
5. Use of native language
Students using their native language could be a problem within monolingual classes. There are a several things the teacher can do:
- The activities need to be the appropriate level.
- Explanations need to be clear to all class members
- Encourage the use of English where appropriate
- Only respond in English
- Constantly remind the students
6. Reluctant students
There are instances when some students that don’t want to talk or participate in the class. The reasons might be cultural, intimidation or confidence issues. Some ways to encourage students to speak are:
- Using a lot of pair work
- Using controlled practice
- Using role-play
- Using a tape recorder
7. Difficulties with listening texts
This seems to be a common problem for students of almost all nationalities. The teacher has to start by making sure it is a problem with the listening skills and not the poor quality of the audio material, volume, etc.
8. Early finishers
There are instances where some students finish a lot quicker than others. In those cases, it is best to follow the pace of the majority of the class.
Teachers can keep a selection of extra materials, so quicker students have something to do and don’t get bored. Another solution is to plan different activities for the same materials, so early finishers can do extra work on it.
A very useful last unit of the course with some good pointers on how to deal with some common problems. For me the parts about first lessons, large groups, early finishers and different levels within one group are most relevant as they are problems that i have dealt with frequently in the past or still have to deal with now.