Are you feeling down because you have a larger class and that means more work?
Are you trembling at the thought that you might get the biggest class this semester? Large ESL classes have a lot to offer if you just look past the numbers. Here are some of the perks of teaching large classes.
8 Benefits of Teaching a Large Class
Pump up the Energy
The more students you have in class, the more energy you will have within your classroom walls. Though more energy may at times be distracting, for the most part a higher energy class will be more engaged in classroom activities and more excited to use the language they are learning. Plus that energy is contagious, so even less energetic students may find themselves carried along with the rest of the current.
Time Flies When You’re Having Fun
Or when you are teaching a big class. For whatever reason, time goes faster when you are teaching a larger class. This means that you probably won’t get through all the activities you would normally plan for a class period. Use this knowledge to your advantage by scheduling catch up days in your lesson planner. Take a day every month (or more frequently depending on how much material you get through) to just catch up on material you didn’t have time for in class. You can make these days do double duty, too, by using them as review days before the test at the end of each unit.
More students in class means more people will want to have their say in class discussions. When you talk with your entire class, no matter what the topic, someone will have something to say. This means that you won’t run into the problem teachers of small classes often do: you won’t have a class full of people with blank stares and nothing to say. And this means you don’t have to have as many fillers and short activities at the ready as you might otherwise need to. As any good teacher would, have one or two backup activities ready, but you may find you don’t even have the occasion to use those activities since your class will be full of discussion and activity already.
When you have more students in class, you naturally have more variability when it comes to putting students in smaller working groups. Use this to your advantage by sometimes grouping students at the same skill level and sometimes grouping students of varying skill levels. Group students with the same native language together at times and group students of different native languages together at other times. There are advantages to each small group dynamic. Plus with more students to group, you can intentionally avoid any personality conflicts that might occur with students who don’t get along.
Conflicts Are Infrequent
A larger class and a larger classroom means that students who don’t get along won’t be thrown into activities together like they might be in a smaller class. You will have plenty of opportunities to mix up which students work together, so if you are aware of a potential personality conflict or a prejudice among your students, you have the freedom to make sure those students don’t have to work closely with each other during class. That also means that your students will have plenty of potential friends and close supporters, which is very important for international students. You can give your students time to interact with each other in class and then see the makeshift “families” that evolve among your students.
It’s My Final Answer
With a larger ESL class, odds are you will never ask for an answer to a question only to face a silent and deadly sea of blank stares. The more students you have in class, the more likely it is you will have someone ready to answer any question you ask. Just make sure you don’t rely on the same students to answer every question. Try to get a variety of students to answer your questions and participate in class.
If your students are at all competitive, and they probably are, you can use your big class numbers to your advantage by setting up teams among your students. Divide your class into two to four teams depending on the number of students your class contains. Then award points to teams for completing homework, participating in class, and showing outstanding performance on language tasks. Keep your team totals on display in your classroom and use the competitive spirit among your students to encourage better participation and performance on tasks. Periodically, reward your winning team with a homework free day, an in class reward, or extra credit points. Then switch up the teams and reset the points total to zero.
Classes to Come
Bigger classes can help your students be more prepared for post English program studies. Many college classes, particularly the introductory ones students take their first years at a university, are often large. Students do not get personal interaction with their professors and the responsibility of learning falls on them. ESL students who experience large classes in their English programs may be better prepared to take large college classes. Your students will learn that they will get out of class what they put into it, and that will better prepare them for freshman year.
There is no doubt that teaching large classes has its challenge, but that challenge doesn’t come without rewards.
Big classes can be your best if you just look to the positive things they have to offer.