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In this unit we have looked at some of the most common problem situations that teachers can encounter in the classroom and also suggest ways of dealing with them. In each new teaching position a teacher will be faced with meeting a number of new classes for the first time. Such classes can fall into two categories:
? New group – in this kind of group the students don't know each other and some work will be needed to establish rapport between the class members. Students may be unfamiliar with EFL methodology.
? Existing group – in an existing group the students are already likely to know and be comfortable with each other and familiar with EFL teaching.
When faced with a first lesson the experienced teacher will not resort to the course book but will try to use activities that will achieve the following:
? Establish rapport between the students (in the case of a new group) and also between the teacher and the class.
? Find out about the students. This will allow the teacher to be able to plan future lessons to cater to the students’ interests.
? Find out about the students' needs/aspirations with English. This enables the teacher to tailor the course to meet the needs of the class.
? Find out the English level of each individual class member. Areas of difficulty with the language can be built into the course syllabus.
I have learnt the following warmer ideas:
? Hangman. Can be used as a revision tool for vocabulary already learnt or to introduce new words.
? Pictionary. Usage as above.
? Tongue twisters. Good for pronunciation of problem sounds. For example “red lorry, yellow lorry” is useful in Asia where the 'r' and 'l' sound present problems.
? Memory games. For example one student starts with “Yesterday, I went swimming”, the next student would say “Yesterday, I went swimming and played football” and so on.
One of the biggest problems that teachers face is a group where the students are at varying levels. Some students learn more quickly than others and in classes that started at the same level, gaps can start to appear. There are a number of ways that the teacher can deal with this:
? Use different materials. Where the difference in ability is wide, the teacher may wish to split the students into two groups (one with the stronger students and the other with the weaker class members). The teacher can give different materials to each group, appropriate to their level. If the materials are based around the same themes, then the class can be brought back together at other stages.
? Same material, different tasks. Here the teacher will give the students the same materials but give the stronger students longer, more complicated tasks appropriate to their level.
Don't do anything. Many teachers prefer to let each student find his/her own level within the class. Such an approach means that the students will be studying and learning the same material and, as a result, the gap in level shouldn't increase. The danger, of course, is that the weaker students might feel frustrated or the stronger ones bored.
? Pair stronger students with weaker ones.
Also I have learnt about a number of problems with large classes, the use of the students' native tongue and how to deal the quicker and reluctant students.