Teaching Large Classes; Advantages and Challenges

by Manjusha Nambiar

Teaching a large group of students is not as easy as teaching a small group. However, due to shortage of space many ESL schools are forced to offer large classes. A large class may consist of 50 or more students. Whether you teach a small class or a large class, an ESL teacher has to come up with engaging activities that will keep the students interested. Of course, it is not easy especially when you have a large number of students vying for your attention. Here are a few tips to cope with the challenges of teaching a large class.

Let’s start by talking about the advantages of teaching large classes. It is not easy to manage large classes especially when noise levels go out of hand. On the bright side large classes are fun and exciting. What’s more, time flies in a large class and you are unlikely to find yourself looking at the clock.

Challenges of Teaching Large Classes

If you have a large number of students in your class, you will probably have difficulty building personal relationships with them.  Teachers often complain that they don’t get an opportunity to get to know their students. What’s more, remembering the names of all students in your class can be quite a challenge. You can solve part of this problem by sticking to a particular seating arrangement. Ask your students to sit in the same space for a few weeks. This arrangement will make it easier for you to remember their names.

Ensure the participation of every student.

Although it may not be easy, a teacher has to pay equal attention to all students. In every class there are going to be both fast and slow learners. Some students are also better at grabbing attention than others. It is the duty of the teacher to ensure the participation of every student.

Be well-prepared

Some teachers are overwhelmed by the sheer size of a large class. There are also some students who are afraid of asking questions in a large class. Although none of these are serious issues, they might have an adverse effect on the performance of the student or the teacher. You can solve this problem to a great extent by doing your homework. Before going to the class, make sure that you are well-prepared and that you have all the necessary teaching materials in your hand.

ESL teachers in general are likely to receive the same salary irrespective of the size of their classes. On the flip side, teachers who handle a large class have to spend more time in grading assignments and tests. This can be avoided to a great extent by ensuring the participation of students and peers in grading assignments.

Coping with distractions

In a large class, there will be no dearth of distractions. For example, there are students who chat while you are teaching. Latecomers are another problem.  You don’t necessarily have to be a strict disciplinarian to deal with these problems. However, you need to make it clear that there are certain behaviors that you wouldn’t tolerate.

Manjusha Nambiar is an ESL tutor and content developer. She gives English grammar lessons and formal letter writing tips at her site www.perfectyourenglish.com


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1 comment

  1. Large classes mean that it is not possible to give individual attention, random attention to make the class move along is possible but not really satisfactory, even when the students are eager and participating.
    Here in Guilin Uni, where large class sizes are normal, we use groups or teams. This replaces moving the class around for activities by the teacher moving around. The games incentives are posted on the board as team scores. Not as good as movement in the class, but an ok alternative with big classes and often bolted down rows of seats.

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