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 TEFL Class Management

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John V Asia Teacher
John V Asia Teacher

PostSubject: TEFL Class Management   15.03.17 7:28

Classes in Asian state schools often contain 60+ students. New TEFL teachers often have a problem with class management, often another term for loss or lack of control and leadership skills.

TEFL in Asia - Class Management

Classes in Asian state schools often contain 60+ students. New TEFL teachers often have a problem with class management, often another term for loss or lack of control and leadership. Unlike the west, throughout Asia and the Far East, the teacher is more than a neutral referee or facilitator, responsible for both providing information and upholding society morals. Teaching involves more than just holding up a flashcard, pointing and mumbling dog, tree, or sun. If you have no experience of man management or lack assertiveness, teaching is going to be an unpleasant eye-opening experience, despite the assertions of recruiters who promise fun, sun and excitement.


1. Set ground rules early on; 60 teens shouting the answer in a canopy (check spelling) of noise is beyond anyone’s control.

2.  Specifically with teens, remember you are competing with Lady Gaga and the latest mobile phone upgrade. Try to make your lessons interesting.

3. Take care what you say in exasperation. Off the cuff comments hurt and what is often said as a throwaway remark and forgotten, can have an adverse effect and last for decades, or even a lifetime on children. A student is not ‘stupid’ if they can’t understand what you’re saying and give a wrong answer, or simply get it wrong. Remember that you’re speaking to students who might only understand 50% of the words you’re using and have to guess the rest. Keep your words simple and use body language.

4. Practice speaking in front of a mirror. Talk for only ten minutes, without any mmm’s, or errs’s, or fidgeting. Try it now on any subject you like. Stuttering, finger fidgeting, or moving your hands to shoulder height is a sure sign that you’re thinking and don’t know what to say.  

5. Students and your professional peer group anywhere can sense novice insecurity and many suffer for their unpreparedness and inexperience in the classroom. Student teens the world over lack sympathetic leanings! Once you lose control of a class, it's difficult if not impossible to regain it.

6. Learn to notice the signs of boredom; fidgeting and glazed expressions in others and quickly change the subject, or introduce an activity. We all like to think what we’re saying is important, but we all at times overdo it. Lesson planning and preparing notes are about pacing topics in stages, so you don’t stumble, or become repetitious. Learn your subject; all the presentation in the world means nothing if you don’t know how to prepare lesson plans.


Speak slowly
Speaking is not a race.
Words are used to inform others about something you want to say, or for others to tell you something. The more slowly you speak the more chance you have of being understood. Learn to project your voice to those at the back of the room as if you were talking to them, without shouting; if they can hear you, so can everyone else. If you find yourself having to shout, you’ve already lost that particular class. 

Speak clearly
Use pronunciation and enunciation.
This means pronouncing every letter of every word. If you speak too quickly then you may miss some letters of a word and the word you are trying to say will be misunderstood, or sometimes mean something else.

Take your time – think before you speak
Organize your thoughts before you start.
Plan what you are going to say before you say it. Understand what you are going to say and use tones and body language. Once you have decided then start to speak slowly and clearly. Speaking slowly also helps disguise regional accents.

Use tones and body language when speaking
Just as in other languages, the English language uses tones, although not many.
This is a rising and falling of the voice to give meaning to the word. Unlike other languages, the words do not change with the tone, but the voice adds meaning and emphasis to the words. Happy, sad, funny - the tone of your voice matters. We raise our tone when we are happy and lower it when we are unhappy.

Body Language
Use body language ‘gestures’ and the use of hands are always welcome.
Remember also, that the voice rises with a question and falls with a statement. Asking (?) the voice rises and telling (!) the voice lowers.

Because we use feelings and emotions in the English language, we must always look at the person we are speaking to. When we use our hands to describe something and by using eye contact, we can see what effect our words are having. Do they understand? Are they happy? Do they agree? We can tell this by looking at their faces and body posture. Your students will find this strange at first and lower their eyes in respect when you look at them to avoid eye contact, so explain the reasoning behind it.

Don’t chant
‘Chanting’ means to speak quickly without feeling or emotion and is the sort of speaking done by robots in films.
It is done in a monotone and is very difficult to understand. Before speaking or reading, you must understand what it is you are saying and it is then that you can use the correct tones and gestures (hand and facial expressions) to add meaning and understanding to your words.

Classroom Activities

The following activities help increase student participation, throughout Asia and the Far East where loss of face and shyness prevents individual replies. These produce a collectivised approach of answers and can be used by forming groups competing against one another.

Activity 1 – Word guessing game

Vocabulary guessing game of objects in the classroom. ‘I spy with my little eye, something beginning with the letter, C’.

Guess for vocabulary, or use dashes c _ _ _ _ and the alphabet.

Hint: I sit on it - c (yes), e (no), y (no), t (no), i (yes) . . . c _ _ i _  (chair).

Having guessed the word, what does it look like (adjective) and what is it doing, or what can you do with it (verb)?

Activity 2 - Alphabet and vocabulary learning (Hangman)

My favourite food is: _ _ _ _ (rice)

Every correct letter replaces a dash and every wrong letter begins to form a hanging, student’s v the teacher.

Activity 3 - Word puzzle

Find the noun and describe it.

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