Thursday, March 18, 2010

Class Cohesion: How to Keep Everyone Together

Hello Fellow ESL Teachers and Tutors!

Welcome to ESL Teacher, a blog dedicated to improve the teaching and learning of ESL!

Today we are going to discuss how to ensure class cohesion. In other words, how do you get all of your students to focus and pay attention! I'm very excited to hear what other ESL teachers and ESL tutors have to say about this topic, as I'm always interested in learning new techniques.

See these videos for my techniques, and look below for more detailed discussion!

Class Cohesion: Part 1 of 2, Keeping Everyone Together

Class Cohesion: Part 2 of 2, Taking Breaks

If you find your class is not all together try these techniques:

Class Repetition
Have the class repeat what you are teaching, or what a student just said. Have the class repeat until everyone is repeating together.

As an example, when we do introductions, I have each student come to the front of the class and introduce themselves.

1) Each ESL Student takes turn going to the front of the classroom and says "Let me introduce myself. My name's Kim. I'm Korean. I've been in Hawaii for 3 years. I've been coming to the Drop-In Center for 1 year. I'm a housewife"
2) ESL Teacher has the class say "Good morning Kim".
3) ESL Teacher has the class repeat the greeting until everyone in the class is saying it.
4) Feel great knowing your students are learning each others' names, paying attention and saying nice things to each other!

Ask Your Students to Pay Attention
Get one or two students to stop talking amongst themselves by calling out their name and asking them to pay attention. If you use this technique too much, then you may want to examine your teaching style. It could be that your class needs more variety or the level of the classwork needs to be adjusted.

Vary Your Activities
Keep the class focused by changing up what you do and keeping them interested and on their toes.

As an example, in our class, after the introductions, sometimes I ask the students to pair up and ask each other questions. This changes up the dynamic from listening to the person in the front of the room, to actively practicing speaking with a fellow classmate.

1) ESL Teacher has the students write down the following questions: "What's your name? What's your nationality? How long have you been in Hawaii? How long have you been coming to the Drop-In Center? What do you do?"
2) The ESL teacher pairs up the ESL students with other ESL students who don't speak the same language, or who they haven't been paired up with before.
3) The ESL teacher asks the students ask each other the questions and answer the questions.
4) The ESL teacher changes up the student pairings and repeat.

Take Breaks
Proper rest is important to help the ESL teacher stay fresh, and the help the ESL students say alert and active. Also, your students are less likely to get up in the middle of your class to go to the bathroom if you've given them plenty of break time.

As an example, for a 3 hour class, you can take a break every hour for about 10 or 15 minutes. If the class is doing well, you can break in the middle, after an hour and a half, for about 15 minutes.

General Rule of thumb: break every 50 minutes for at least 10 minutes.

Hope this was helpful! Share your techniques in the comments section below! We would really appreciate it =)

Your Fellow ESL Teacher,


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