Saturday, 31 May 2008

How to Teach Large Classes

Updated 17 February 2012
Go online. You can find lots of material for lesson plans online. There are also books with tips on how to teach large classes.

Have the students make the rules. When they do this they feel that they are more fair than those the teacher makes.

Give instructions clearly and check comprehension. Most students would rather just nod and say that they understand than ask for clarification. If you do comp checks you can ensure that they really understand what was said.

Dictations. Try playing a listening at twice its normal speed, than have students work together to piece the listening together.

Create power points. Writing on the board is time consuming so use technology.

Use drawings. Drawings can make a class fun and are worth 1000 words. Often the ugliest drawings get the best reactions.

Bring realia. Showing real objects help.

Use what students say. The next time your students are doing a speaking activity take notes on what they say.

Activity notebooks. Everyone works at different speeds. Rather than just having them sit and do nothing give them something to do. Give them worksheets that they can do when they finish or put a folder in the back of the room with things to do in it.

Why language learning is important. Discuss why English is important.

Move away from students. When a student speaks softly the biggest mistake that you can make is moving closer to them. Move away from them so that they have to project their voice.

Adapt material. It’s hard to use everything from the book so change some of the material so that it better suits your students.

Have sequential material. Have different questions according to the level so that all students can feel challenged.

Use students to help. Students can pass out papers and even help explain exercises and grammar to their peers.

Have them write goals. If they see what they’re working for, they will able to see progress.

Routines. They make students comfortable and will lessen the need for explanations.

Teach them to be respectful. They have to realize that they need to take turns speaking and listening to other ideas.

One paper per group. Save trees and teach students to work in groups. By sharing papers, they will be forced to work together.

Work on editing. By having students read each other’s work, they will recognize mistakes and explain why they are wrong.

Have assigned groups. Change it up every once in a while so that people get the chance to work with other people.

Group students. Creating smaller groups allows students the chance to speak and practise their English.

Walk around. Don’t just stand in front of the class and lecture. Moving around and you can help students when needed.

Create activity corners. Think of a couple of activities that students can do on their own or with a small group. Put these activities in different places around the room.


Try discussions. Break students up and give them a topic to discuss. You can either walk around and listen and correct what they have to say, or have them present their ideas in front of the class, or do both.

Get to know the students. Yes, it’s difficult to memorise everyone’s names, but it makes things a lot easier and lets the students know that you take the time to get to know them. If names are hard for you, try a seating chart, or name tags.

Make yourself available. Let your students know that they can meet you at certain times on certain days in order to ask you questions about what was taught in class.

Ask for feedback. Surveys can do wonders for your teaching. Students have valuable suggestions on how you can make your class a better learning environment.

Make comments. Try to write some comments on each student's paper even if it’s just to say good job.

Change things up. Movies, songs, drama, role plays, and debates are great activities for large classes.

Call on everyone. Don’t just call on the people in the front or those with their hands up. Call on those in the back as well.

Projects. Have students do a project or two where they have to work in groups. Not only will they get the chance to meet other people, but they will also learn valuable group working skills.

Provide an outline or syllabus. Let students know what will be discussed in each class with a simple syllabus. For each class write an outline on the board about what will be taught in class.

Be fair. Make sure your rules apply to everyone. Using rubrics work well and let students know how you are grading.

Don’t shout. The students should listen to you while you’re giving instructions.
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