Archive | September, 2011

Vocabulary circle

28 Sep

This is a nice idea that you can apply to enrich the students vocabulary. Choose a topic your teaching or make your student choose one they like e.g fashion or media


29 Ways to Stay Creative

15 Sep

This is an amazing video

29 ways to stay creative

Teaching large classes: The good ,The Bad & The Helpful

15 Sep

Teaching Large Classes

Most teachers agree that teaching a small group of students is easier, more enjoyable, and less time consuming than teaching a large group. Unfortunately, due to budgets, space, or lack of teachers, many ESL schools only offer large classes. In some schools, large classes may consist of up to 50 or more students. While your class may look more like a University lecture hall, your job is not to lecture. Just like teaching a small class, you must come up with engaging activities that keep all of your students interested and participating with the goal of improving their communication skills. While there are numerous challenges when it comes to teaching large classes, there are many coping skills and activities that you can use to make your job easier.

Advantages of Teaching Large Classes

  • High Energy: Classes with many students may be noisy, but they are also fun and exciting.
  • Timing: Classes go by quickly in a large class, and you will rarely catch yourself looking at the clock. You will regularly find yourself with extra activities that you did not complete that you can save and use in your next class.
  • Participation: There is always someone who is willing to answer questions even if they are just guessing. Make sure to take answers from a variety of students.
  • Fillers: Teachers have less need for fillers since core activities and lessons take longer to complete.

Challenges of Teaching Large Classes

  • Intimacy: Remembering student’s names can take a while. Teachers may feel that they do not get to know their students as well as they would like to.
  • Anxiety: Some teachers feel anxious being so outnumbered by the students. In addition, some students are afraid to ask questions or participate in a large class.
  • Student needs: Meeting individual needs can be difficult or impossible when class size is very large.
  • Marking: Grading assignments and tests can be very time consuming, and your pay will generally be the same for a smaller class.
  • Distractions: There are more distractions for teachers in large classes, such as latecomers and people chatting while you are teaching.
  • Preparation: Making photocopies for a large class can be very time consuming. Other teachers may be bothered by how much time you spend using the photocopier.
  • Noise level: Large classes can become out of hand when students are working in pairs or groups. At times you may feel more like a disciplinarian than a teacher.
  • Monitoring students: Teachers may find it difficult to keep students on task as they monitor pair and group work.
  • Space: There is limited space in a classroom for energetic activities such as role-playing.
  • Textbooks and resources: There may not be enough textbooks or computers available for all students.

Strategies for Coping with Large Classes

  • Use a teacher’s notebook: Attach a small notebook and pen to your belt loop. Take notes while you are monitoring pair or group learning. Review common errors as a whole group after an activity is complete.
  • Spread out: Find another space that your class can use for energetic whole group activities. Find a lobby or spare classroom in the building that your students can spread out into when they are preparing a project or performance. Take students outside if there is no indoor space available.
  • Create a participation grade: Make homework and attendance count by doing regular checks and making it part of their final grade. Giving a daily exam tip also encourages attendance.
  • Encourage competition: Establish a fun and competitive atmosphere within the class, by dividing the class into teams. You may change the teams once in a while or leave them the same throughout a semester. Teams can win points for certain accomplishments (If noise and behaviour is a problem, students can lose points too.).
  • Relax: Find ways to relax before class so that you don’t feel anxious. Never attempt to prepare a lesson in the morning, right before class. Always have a water bottle handy. Always have an extra activity on hand in case something doesn’t go as you expect it to.
  • Establish trust: Learn unique ways to remember names and do your best to get to know something about each of your students. Create a seating chart on the first day and ask students to stick with it for a while. Tell your students at least one or two things about yourself beyond your role of teaching.
  • Manage the noise: Establish a signal that you want your class to stop what they are doing and listen. This should be done from the first day, so that students become accustomed to it right away. Be careful not to use gestures or sounds that would offend anyone.
  • Reduce marking and preparation time: Design quizzes and tests in a way so that you can reduce the amount of marking. Use peer evaluations when possible. If students submit journals, just read them and leave a short comment and/or suggestion, rather than fixing every grammar mistake. Designate a specific time when the teacher’s room is slow to do most of your photocopying for the week. This will save you from feeling guilty for taking up the photocopier for a long time when another teacher only has a few copies to make.
  • Enforce a late policy: Notify students of your late policy on the first day and stick to it. For example, don’t let students enter your classroom after a warm-up has ended. If students miss class, make it their responsibility to catch up, not yours.
  • Share your e-mail address: In a large class, you will find yourself feeling drained before and after class if you let students come early or stay late to ask questions every day. This alone can make you hate your job, especially if you are not paid for hours when you are not teaching. Encourage students to e-mail you with questions, and answer them on your own time. If you don’t like the e-mail suggestion, try finishing your class ten minutes early once in a while and allow your students free conversation time. Take questions on a first come basis during this time.

Activities to use in Large Classes

  • Small group discussions: Use topics related to a theme, or ask students to submit topic suggestions.
  • Who Am I?: Tape the name of a famous person to the back of each student. Students go around the room asking questions and trying to identify themselves. Once they guess who they are they can place their nametag on the front and continue helping other students identify themselves.
  • Team spelling contests: Each student who gets the spelling correct gets a point for their team.
  • Balderdash: Large class can be split into teams. Teacher calls out a word and students have to write down the part of speech and definition. Each student to get both correct gets a point for her team.
  • Write the question: Large class can be split into teams. The teacher calls out an answer and the students have to write the question. (ex. “Lynn”) Each student to write the correct question gets a point. (ex. answer: What’s your middle name?”)
  • Questionnaires: Students circulate around the room asking each other questions. Students can create their own questions on a given topic or theme, or you can provide the questionnaire handout. Follow up by asking each student to report the most interesting answer they received.
  • Categories: The teacher calls out a category, such as fruit, and each student has to name a fruit when it is his turn. If a student hesitates for more than five seconds, he or she has to choose a new category and sit out the rest of the game. The last person to get out wins.

Teaching Large Classes

15 Sep


I’ve been reading this booklet to help me get tips and ideas to teach large classes. Hope you can find it useful

Week 1

15 Sep

So week 1 is done. I have mixed emotions…on the bright side :

1- We got a new book to teach this term called ( Mega Goal )

2-My students really enjoyed the ice breakers we did.

3- Me & my students agreed and singed  classroom rules contract .

on the other side of the coin is the HUGE number of students I’m expected to teach this year:  39 students ( and still counting ) in each class. I’m really disappointed. I thought we might get 30 in each class but that didn’t happen. So now Ive got to come up with a plan to deal with this new situation.

Back To School

11 Sep

This is our back to school week. I started planning about a week ago. I wrote down all the strategies ,methods ,activities and games  I used last year and categorized them based on students’ results . Next, I highlighted the obstetrical and brainstormed ideas to over come them.

Normally, I set up the educational goals based on the curriculum but since I still don’t know which one we will be teaching this year, I concentrated on the  Firsts : First impressions and First activity.

Every teacher should start with a positive tune not rules and regulations.I looked for activities that will allow me to get to know the new students better, while giving them the chance of knowing more about me and also breaking the ice .

I plan to introduce myself on the 1st day . Get to know the students’ names. Then we will do these activities:

My Favorite Things !!!

1- I’ll write some unscramble words on the board. These  are a list of my favorite things.

2- Students will work in groups to try to unscramble the words.

3- After all of the words have been unscrambled, I’ll ask the students to name a category  or topic for all the words.

4- If the students can not guess, I tell them they have just discovered my favorite things.

5-Then Students will  create some scrambled words of their own. We will unscramble their lists during the rest of the week .

Snowball Fight!!!

1- Give the students a clean sheet of  paper.

2-Have them write 2-3 unique things about themselves.It doesn’t have to be a complete sentence.

3-Tell them NOT to put their name on the paper.

4-Next, have them crunch the paper into a ball.

5-Have them stand in a large circle around the room.

6-Then allow them one full minute to have a snowball fight!Emphasizing on not hitting the face.

7-When one minute is up, have them pick up the paper a “snowball” nearest to them, unfold it, and take turns trying to guess who it is.

Desert Island!!!

Announce, ‘You’ve been exiled to a deserted island for a year. In addition to the essentials, you may take one piece of music, one book  and one luxury item you can carry with you i.e. not a boat to leave the island! What would you take and why?’ Allow a few minutes for the students to write  their list of three items, before sharing their choices with the rest of the group.

I’m always nervous on first days and I`m sure that`s a good thing because it means we care 🙂

Let the Journey Begins

11 Sep

I’ve been pondering starting a blog for 2years but today I took the plunge. I’ll post things I’ve learned as a teacher for 13 years , activities, links and personal thoughts. I’m very excited to start this blog and looking forward to hearing from those of you who are joining me in this journey .What do I hope to gain from this experience? I hope to inspire others to step outside their comfort zone. I hope to create a place where everyone, including myself, can learn how to become a better teacher and serve their community.