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Q: Best way to teach a class of... 60 high school students?

Not only have I not taught High School students before, but I've never taught a group larger than 10. Finding out that I'd be teaching 60 students per class, if I accepted the job, makes me feel awfully nervous.

 

Any advice would be appreciated here. I was thinking of jumping off a bridge, but if you've got a better idea, then I'm all ears.

 

EDIT: Hmm, this shouldn't be anonymous. Sorry.

7 years 33 weeks ago in  Teaching & Learning - China

 
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Class of 60? You need a few firm rules.

 

1. Class rules, no talking AT ALL unless invited to do so, no phones etc, lay the rules out at the start of the lesson and be enormously strict with them, any breaches send the student out of the class, or if that is not practical separate them, (yes childish silly corner but with classes this size, you often have no choice).

2. This cannot be an interactive lesson, too many students, so treat it like a lecture. It is going to have to be very didactic and teacher-centric. You speak, they listen and do.

3. Set homework, that is the only time they are going to get to practise the subject you have covered in the lesson, (yes many will cheat).

4. About the only interactive activity that will remotely work is pronunciation drills and even then you aren't going to be able to detect (or correct) individual errors.

5. Avoid movies and long listening sessions, (too many chances to misbehave).

 

Good luck.

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7 years 33 weeks ago
 
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I highly recommend large doses of prozac (for the kids if you have the money, or yourself if you are on a budget), stun grenades and a used guillotine to provide that extra edge of incentive for lagging students.

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7 years 33 weeks ago
 
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I can't give you much advice here, sorry.  I tried the big class teaching in a rich kids middle school, and after a new set of 60 students in a class every 40 minutes several days in a row (with no assistant!), the next day I quit that school in a hurry.  Any school that thinks they can teach useful English in those class sizes at that age with the limited time available is delusional and just stealing money.  No kid can learn in that environment, and the limited time means if you tried to do an activity with the class, one activity will take the entire class period, leaving no time for other lessons.  Obviously leaving no one on one time with students either.

 

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7 years 33 weeks ago
 
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Sounds like a nightmare.  I've taught 40 or so freshmen in a university once a week and that was enough to make me want to quit.  If you are not strict with them, don't have a very strong voice and a very strong command of the classroom you will lose them in a hurry.  Set some rules early, like no talking while you are talking.  If you find someone doing it then stop talking and ask that person to come to the front and share whatever it is they are talking about with the whole class.  If you keep doing that they will eventually pay attention but its an uphill battle.  As for activities its really whatever you want to do as this group is really not that conducive for learning English.  The best best is to try a lot of pair and group work, and an occasional lecture or presentation to get them talking. 

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7 years 33 weeks ago
 
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I agree with the above and give them thumbs up. My biggest class was 24 and 80% of them were bright and pretty good at English. Therefore they all wanted to answer the questions or participate. Great classes. I printed their names on a slip of paper and placed them into a box. Whenever I wanted an answer or something done that required the student's input I would draw a name from the box. But 60 kids in a 45 or 50 minute lesson? Not possible.

Second thought. Form teams of 5 or 6. Mentally think that you are teaching 10 or 12 students. That will enable you to stick to a lesson plan but you won't be able to individualise the teaching.

Good luck.

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7 years 33 weeks ago
 
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Class of 60? You need a few firm rules.

 

1. Class rules, no talking AT ALL unless invited to do so, no phones etc, lay the rules out at the start of the lesson and be enormously strict with them, any breaches send the student out of the class, or if that is not practical separate them, (yes childish silly corner but with classes this size, you often have no choice).

2. This cannot be an interactive lesson, too many students, so treat it like a lecture. It is going to have to be very didactic and teacher-centric. You speak, they listen and do.

3. Set homework, that is the only time they are going to get to practise the subject you have covered in the lesson, (yes many will cheat).

4. About the only interactive activity that will remotely work is pronunciation drills and even then you aren't going to be able to detect (or correct) individual errors.

5. Avoid movies and long listening sessions, (too many chances to misbehave).

 

Good luck.

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7 years 33 weeks ago
 
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For your first class Hulk,ask them if they could change 3 things about their school,what would they be.i.e  WC ,Dorms,class size,put in groups depending on class set out,walk around the class talking to each group etc,then ask 1 person from each group to give their views,you will get a feel for each class then,and they will be engaged because it's something in their lives they feel strong about,I also teach High School 60 students plus.Music sports are always good topics plus ask what they want to learn about

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7 years 33 weeks ago
 
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I have never been teaching this many kids in a class. Well, this is not a class, it's a legion. When I was told there are classes this much outnumbered I couldn't believe it. So, it is true! You need nerves of steel to deal with so many and drink a lot of honey and lemon water to prevent your voice from problems. 

As I've never been under such teaching circumstances, I will be looking forward to learning from this thread too. I have already seen good ideas from paulmartin and Hugh. 

 

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7 years 33 weeks ago
 
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The best thing to do would be to run screaming..... failing that, hugh's advice is pretty sensible. The wee buggers would need to know straight up that they're dealing with the hulk, and that the hulk doesn't take shit off anyone.

 

Be as sparing with Chinese as possible. Typically, but perhaps counter-intuitively, teaching with translations from their first language doesn't work that well.

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7 years 33 weeks ago
 
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First thing... get their parents' phone numbers the first day of class. Tell them that you hope you won't need to call their parents, but if you do, you'll be able to  (if you can say this in good Chinese, you'll have a positive effect).

 

VERY IMPORTANT - Take note of who sits with who... and change it! It's a classroom - not a social event! (probably, change it every lesson Laughing out loud)

 

When someone does muck up, kick them out of class... send them to the dean or their head teacher, or whoever... take note of who does what and when.... 2nd or 3rd strike (shouldn't take long), ring their parent (preferably in front of the whole class), and explain who you are, and that you don't want to teach their rude, ignorant child anymore... they're just wasting your (and everyone else's) time. You won't have a problem again Laughing out loud

 

Sure, they may not like you... but then, you're there to teach - not win a popularity contest!

 

As for teaching itself... repetition and drills.. it's what they're used to anyway, and it's a good way to fix pronunciation errors. Strangely, it's something that does actually seem to work! Even do this with grammar, so they're used to how something sounds (as well as reads). 

 

If you can, go for accuracy over variety... variety can be added later, but it's harder to fix if the basics haven't been ingrained accurately. (this, if you haven't been given a set curriculum)

 

Oh, do make it very clear that if you have students who really do want to learn, you are willing to help them!

 

(btw, I knew a teacher who would throw mobile phones out a 6th floor window... after the 3rd warning, including confiscations. Obviously, choose a richer student to do this to... which, coincidentally, will probably be the one who doesn't learn the lesson the first 2 times Tongue).

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7 years 33 weeks ago
 
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  Pronunciation drills can be of great use. These kids are already getting an English education but very little or no speaking practice. Simple sentences on various themes that you read and they repeat can help them in such practice. Boring but in a situation such as yours you have to go with what works. Did this once though and was given a handout by their English teacher to run through with them. One topic was 'weather' and so we drilled "It's raining cats and dogs" and so on, until we came to a phrase i'd never heard; "It's sheeting down." Well the Chinese often have pronunciation problems with the long 'ee'  sound, and so of course, on my cue, a class of fifty 12 years olds all cried out in unison, "It's shitting down." It was hard to go on after that, I was almost doubling up. 

  Another thing you might want to try is to set up task based spoken exercises to do in pairs. Spot the difference worksheets are pretty good. Students sit facing each other and have to ask "Is there a dog/cat in your picture," etcetera. These can be hard or simple, just make sure you drill the target language before they get started on the exercise. Crosswords where each student has half the words are good too. They have to explain to their partner "One down is a man. It is not 'mother' it is....." On the whole though students generally require a great deal of guidance, so with this kind of exercise you may quickly find yourself running around trying to help a class of 60 students who all have their thumbs stuck up their.....

  Woop, sorry gotta go, the wife needs the computer.

  Good luck. Don't shout at them, it only makes things worse.

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7 years 33 weeks ago
 
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I remember you asked this a couple of weeks ago. I tried to find that one and just repost you what I wrote then. What happened to that?

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7 years 33 weeks ago
 
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These pronunciation drills... they're supposed to speak after me? All of them? In unison?

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7 years 33 weeks ago
 
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Lots of good advice and feedback already.  Hmmm... 60 high school kids in one room.  How are they seated?  Any room for you to move around if you break them up into "small" units of 10 or so for group practice?  What teaching resources are built into the room?  Chalkboard, interactive smartboard, overhead projector?  Internet access?  Mic with PA speakers?

I would compile a list of "do's" and "don'ts" for myself (to maintain my sanity) and test each in situ in order to later "refine" my teaching approach to such a large group of students.

This is what I would and would not do (not in any special order):

As pointed out above, establish rules for classroom management.  Keep them simple and easy to understand.  Work out a fair and equitable punishment system based on infraction type and ensure that a student understands why the punishment is doled out.  Concomitant to that, design an award system for the sake of balance.  Keep it all simple and stick to it.

Lecture with microphone.  If you have to project your voice far and wide and over extended periods of time, you'll burn out, ending up with a hoarse voice or even worse, with something like laryngitis.

Use PowerPoint as the basis for your approach.  Basic PPTs are easy to develop and allow you to deliver a lesson in "automatic pilot mode", taking the pressure off you to perform

Drill, drill, drill. PPT can help you there.  Save your voice, using it only to call out instructions.  Have the students do all the, ahem, shouting.

Use the Internet for more drilling.  Lots of effective web sites to practice and reinforce grammar, vocab building, pronunciation, writing, test-taking skills, etc.  Of course, you have to do some advance search work, but it will save you a lot of time and grief later.

Give homework regularly, but base it on exercises that are easy and quick to mark and score.  Better yet, provide homework answers via your PPT and have students self-correct or correct each other's work, turning in the results to you for record-keeping.  (Cheating may/will occur, yes, but you can't change the system singlehandedly.)  By all means, do not assign essays or daily journal work.  The last thing you want is to lug 60 journals home with you for correction!  Not practical.

Assign a graded reader (fiction) to the entire class and have the students read to each other aloud for speaking and listening practice.  Better yet, you can find a reader/e-book on the Internet, project it, perhaps with guide commentary, and have the students read and repeat the guide commentary.  Again, letting your technology do all the work.

Use an Internet-based teaching tool such as Engrade (excellent) to help you organize your class(es).  It will cut down on your paperwork.

I would not contemplate pairwork or small group work if the ergonomics of the classroom are not conducive to such activities.  You also would not be able to monitor or control the activities efficiently.

Design a seating matrix and stick to it.  I.e. assign permanent seats to students, number the seats on your matrix along with each student's name for quick and easy reference.  This will help you spot the "achievers", the "disrupters" and the

You'll need to know your students' names.  Chinese or otherwise.  This will allow you to present a more (perceived or real) "personalized" and friendly approach in the classroom.  So, tag them: fixed name placards on their desktops, adhesive name tags on their shirts or any other suitable ID that works.

[A quick note regarding names.  The long-standing trend of assigning English names to English language learners has its merits and demerits.  You don't have to follow the trend, although it's part of the game.  (The same holds true for other language learners, btw.  I had an assigned Spanish name when I was studying Spanish in college.)  If a student does not want an English or Russian or German or French or Loony Tune name, etc., then don't insist.]

Each point I raise above has been researched to death and there are many good books out there written to help a teacher do his/her job.  My comments are cursory, at best.

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7 years 31 weeks ago
 
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I have been teaching 60 plus middle school kids in rural middle schools in China for four years now without a T.A.  I will give you some suggestions.  As a person already said here, have a set of rules and stick by them.  This said, try to ignore the little stuff like a kid sulking or playing with a pencil, only discipline for things that disrupt a class like playing cards or using cell phones.

Second, have segments in every class that last no longer than ten to fifteen minutes each.  I take one minute or two to tell them what to do, one minute or two to have a few students practice, and the rest in practicing.  At the end of class, you can take a few  minutes to do a culture presentation about your home country.

Third, what to teach.  Here is where we practice two things: accuracy and fluency. Accuracy is where I teach them what to say: for example, how to interrupt a speaker, how to sequence like "first I , second I, third I.....," asking and giving directions, ordering at a restaurant, agreeing and disagreeing, ect.  You can look for these activities on the internet or you can buy an English phrase book.  For fluency, I have them say whatever they want.  You can do this is groups of two or four.  For example, ask them to tell each other what they did for Spring Festival- have them answer who, what, where, when, why, how.  I also have have them do debates where one takes a "no" or "yes" side of a question. For example,"Is the Chinese Gao Kao necessary to choose university admissions."  I choose for my students by the use of coin flip what side they will take. 

Lastly, have them talk about things that they are familiar with- their culture, holidays, the NBA, QQ, song groups, themselves, family members etc. 

Some quick suggestions: assign every three students into A,B,C.  One speaks English, another asks as a translator, and the other speaks Chinese.  In one scenario one student sells shirts, the other translates, and the third has to haggle for a better price.  Change roles in later scenarios. Another is just to give them pictures from magazines and give them 1 minutes to names as many nouns as possible.

Good luck.  Don't worry if not all your class cares to participate, you can bring Lady Gaga to sing them English songs and some of these kids will still find it boring.

 

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7 years 31 weeks ago
 
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Yes, I have been teaching large classes - even close to 60 - but no problem.

Sure, sometimes I see students playing with their cell phones and they think

I cannot see that. So, I keep on delivering my 'stuff' and ask questions. Suddenly

I call a student playing with the phone for the answer. Most of the time they have

no clue even what the question was and the get embarrassed [lose face a bit]

and we all in class get a good chuckle. I always try to keep them 'on their toes'

by trying to be somewhat unpredictable. For me,  in my classes... the more the

better... less than 10 a real bummer. As Chinese students are usually shy about

answering questions [for fear of losing face] in a smaller class there is a much

greater chance for them to feel embarrassed.

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7 years 31 weeks ago
 
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There were always more than 70 students in my classroom when i was a pupil.60 is nothing compared with that,you can do it,man!

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7 years 31 weeks ago
 
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That's a disaster. someone is making a lot of money off of you. it doesn't matter what you do, they just need a white face and warm body in the room.

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5 years 25 weeks ago
 
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That's a disaster. someone is making a lot of money off of you. it doesn't matter what you do, they just need a white face and warm body in the room.

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5 years 25 weeks ago
 
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