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difficult students
Thread poster: Rita Bilancio

Rita Bilancio  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:15
English to Italian
+ ...
Mar 18, 2008

Hi,
I just wanted to share my experience with you.
I am currently having trouble with my gruop of students. I had better specify that they are not children but they act if they really are.
I tried many different strategies but seem unable to cope.
Any advice?


TIA


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Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:15
German to English
Who are they? Mar 18, 2008

What sort of students are they? Have they chosen to be there (in other words, do they want to learn), or are they there because they have to be? What teaching methods are you using?

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Sabine Braun  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:15
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
What type of problems? Mar 18, 2008

Can you specify the type of problems you are facing? Are they not motivated enough, rude, just being silly?

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Rita Bilancio  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:15
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
many factors Mar 18, 2008

They are rude in some cases and also silly, some are not motivated and they are too straightforward. There doesn't seem to be a solution: they talk too much
to each other or they don't talk at all.
I tried to change activities, I do teach grammar and it is not very easy for them to do their homework so we spend more time doing it during the classes.
Which method would you use?


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Michelle Silbert
Local time: 15:15
English
+ ...
More info needed Mar 18, 2008

Can you tell us how old they are and what type of school this is you are teaching at?

Perhaps you can give us more background as to what the class is about, etc.

thanks,
Michelle


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Beatriz Galiano
Argentina
Local time: 17:15
English to Spanish
+ ...
More questions Mar 18, 2008

What level of English do they have, what kind of institution is it and what is their native language or nationality. What grammar courses are you teaching, beginner, intermediate or advanced?

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Rita Bilancio  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:15
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
sorry Mar 18, 2008

On average they're 30 and it is a private school.
It is a group course, they're coming for job purposes and study purposes.


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Said Kaljanac a.k.a. SARAJ  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 21:15
Bosnian to French
+ ...
Contact their parents Mar 18, 2008

Hi,

Have you tried to contact their parents?

If you work in secondary school, contact the student's parents by phone and if necessary meet them with the student in order to solve the problem together.

Decide where each of them will sit in the classroom in order to create a "friendly" environment for work and not for chitchatting between schoolmates.

Ask them to have all their material on the tables each time they come to YOUR course, and NOT THEIR classroom.

Those who spoil your course, write their names down and make oral interrogation the next lesson. This is to be imposed only on those who try to sabotage your course.

Instruct them to take notes during your lessons. Time after time, check if they obeyed your instructions and take home all their notes taken during your lessons. Go through their notes and if you see that some students didn't take notes during your course, you give them a 0/10 (or even 0/20) mark for their participation and work in the classroom. You don't give marks at all to those who have their notes because it is perfectly normal to have them, so I don't see why they should be rewarded.

Give them some homework. If they don't do it, you give them 0/10 (or 0/20 depending on the quantity of work).

The first thing to do is not to terrorize them, but make them respect your course. Then when they understand what they can or cannot do, you can do anything you want, they will listen to you and respect your course.

Make your grammar active as well. Show them concrete examples via dialogues which they will create. Via those dialogues they'll use the particular part of grammar seen in the classroom. It could be funny and amusing for everyone. ONLY THEN you reward them for their work. Make them see that a reward is the fruit of their efforts obtained by doing their every day normal tasks.

If despite all they spoil your course, call the parents again. And if that does not help, exclude them from the classroom with some work which she/he will bring it to you at the end of the lesson and which you will evaluate.


Now, if you work with adults in another kind of schooling system, talk to them after your course. If they don't obey your course rules, then kindly show them the way out of the classroom if they are not interested in your course.


I hope some of these elements will help you, but remember whatever you do, you must be strict and just. Being strict doesn't mean that you don't like students. On the contrary, it is for the best. So don't be their firend, be their mentor.

Cheers

Said


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Said Kaljanac a.k.a. SARAJ  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 21:15
Bosnian to French
+ ...
Ooops Mar 18, 2008

megtradb wrote:

On average they're 30 and it is a private school.
It is a group course, they're coming for job purposes and study purposes.


Obvioulsy, I saw your post too late.

Nevertheless, as far as I am concerned I would openly talk to them and say that their attitude must change when you explain the theory.

On the other hand, if you see that they act like kids, try to find some activities for them where they could fully express their childlike attitude. Make them learn or create dialogues and funny scenarios. Then let them "perform" in front of the classroom.

In order to have silence in the classroom while one group is performing, impose to others a role of the jury. So, they will take notes and give a feedback.



Here is an idea:

Write ten (job interview) questions on the chalkboard (including the parts of your grammar). The one who seems the funniest, you give him the role of the interviewer and ask him to improvise some other questions (using newly learned grammatical parts). Others must answer the questions on a sheet of paper and memorize their answers (using the grammatical parts you currently work on).

Once they are ready, let them do their little thing in fornt of the classroom.

Concrete example of questions:

-What is your name?
-What can you tell me about yourself?
-How would you describe yourself?
-Why do you want this job?

etc.

Of course the questions are to be adapted. Next course you could try to find another activity (for example in a shop, or in a matrimonial agency, etc.)









p.s. You can even film each their activity and compile it on a cd or a dvd and show them at the end of the course plan.

[Edited at 2008-03-18 22:09]


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Joan Berglund  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:15
French to English
agree with SARAJ Mar 18, 2008

I never taught anything but PE, so all I could think of is to make them do more push-ups. However SARAJ's ideas are all good, basically take whoever is the biggest "class clown" and have them focus their energy on presenting for the class. They will either settle down and focus so they can be better prepared next time, or they will stop acting up so you will stop putting them on the spot by calling on them to present, either way is good. If all else fails, make them do push-ups. By the way, are you much younger than the average age? That may be why they are acting up so much.

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Beatriz Galiano
Argentina
Local time: 17:15
English to Spanish
+ ...
A piece of advice Mar 18, 2008

I think there are 3 people involved: students, professor and institution.

First things first, talk with the head or someone else about your students' behaviour to get useful information about the group behaviour in general and how they can help solve it.

Second, I would have them work in groups, which is apparently what they are more interested in, giving them tasks for them to solve and then report to the class, oral or written tasks.

These tasks should be related to the grammar you are teaching. For example if you are teaching the passive voice in the past, they could make a list of things that could have been done in a house or factory using vocabulary that is relevant for them. If it is electricity, try to elicit from them sentences like:

The lights were turned off by the engineer.
The circuit was spoiled by a water leak.

and the like, giving them not only the list of verbs they should use but also the vocabulary involved.

If you give them a task for them to do in groups, they will work because they will have to finish it and they will be happy to work in groups and will call you if they need some help.

Work in groups is quite noisy but their attention will be focused somewhere else so you will not feel so bad about it.

That for starters.



[Edited at 2008-03-18 22:41]


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Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 15:15
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I absolutely agree. Mar 18, 2008

I taught adults for years, both for ESL, private language classes and in university (graduate seminars). There are times when things just break down and you feel your control slipping. It is very important to catch the instigators and "neutralize" them. Sounds ominous, but I mean by making them present, or prepare something, rather than zapping them with a laser gun.
It happens to every teacher at some point. My husband teaches law school, and came home last night complaining of a student who never comes on time and then, during her presentation, was laughing at e-mails she was getting on her screen. He was lamenting that one can no longer drag students out of the class by the ear...
Focus their energy in group projects, as Said suggested, rather than individual stuff- that will just give them a platform to act up. Good luck, and hang in there.


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italia  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:15
Italian to German
+ ...
Ever tried role plays? Mar 18, 2008

Hi! Have you ever tried role plays? You could just let them simulate job situations: Let's say: one being the interviewer and one the candidate. The others would be supposed to observe the performance and comment. In this way everyone will be prone to show their best:))), having to pay attention. No chatterboxes anymore:)))
Good luck and keep us posted!!!
If you want you can contact me in private for further info. I think you should still have my email-address))
Un caro saluto


[Edited at 2008-03-18 22:26]

[Edited at 2008-03-18 22:27]


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Michelle Silbert
Local time: 15:15
English
+ ...
Perhaps you're being too lenient Mar 18, 2008

Seems that you must make it clear to the students that talking is not allowed when you're in class. It's distracting and if they're coming to learn a language they need to have your full attention.

Have you taught a class like this before? with the same age group and subject?
And how many of them are there???

Is there a director or other teachers at the school that you could also get advice from?

All my best!
Michelle


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:15
German to English
Group work Mar 18, 2008

Along the same lines as Italia -- you need to shift the focus from your performance to that of the students. Role-playing, such as getting them to ask each other out on a date (pretend) is a way of having fun. Pretending to have an argument can be fun, if it's handled correctly.

I've found that exercises such as getting the students to move around the class and interact with others is a way to relieve boredom and keep them focused on the subject matter. There are all sorts of learning games you can try, such as spelling contests, playing "20 questions, etc." that work well with adult learners. Sitting still in a classroom is torture for someone who hasn't gone to school for some time.


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