C-3-2. Classroom management:
“Success in language learning depends … on what goes on inside and between people in the classroom”
Knowing how to manage my classroom, either during sessions or mainly when conducting communicative activities affects, to a large extent, the atmosphere of learning. It, also, affects learners’ motivation and their rate of the oral production. The classical notion of teaching is more teacher-centered and it is manifested in a rigid arrangement of the classroom space. Here all pupils are sitting in rows facing their teacher like the following figure, Figure 1, shows:
This results mainly in the teacher, providing everything, and in students ''just'' receiving information.So unsufficiant interaction between learners is possible and all activities are done, as a class, in relation with the teacher. However when doing such activities in the form of pair and group work, the chances of interaction between students themselves are better; the opportunities to express oneself are greater. Here students communicate fluently with their peers. They ,also, interact more freely and this is the core of the CLT to English Language Teaching. As interaction “creates’’ knowledge, English “is constructed by the students in relation to each other with the occasional necessary input and verification of the teacher”. The importance of such interaction and involvement of students in what is done in the classroom is summarized in the following Chinese proverb:
“Tell me and I will forget
Show me and I will remember
Involve me and I will learn”.
Here the students are partners and effective participants in what they are learning. They “become responsible not for something outside themselves, but for the growing understanding of English which they themselves create through interaction with the teacher and with each other”.
The following are pair and group activities that my students did and that were beneficial in the sense they provided chances to speak fluently. The focus was mainly on fluency.
1. Pair work speaking activities.
1/ I dealt with this activity with my seventh form pupils, during a group session, at the end of the first module. Here pupils moved freely into the classroom and each time I clap my hands, every pupil has to find a partner that he would “interview” focusing on the following information:
- His name, his age, the number of brothers or sisters and his favorite pastimes. After moving again he had to meet a new classmate.
à This was so beneficial. Pupils were motivated to speak fluently as they felt themselves as if meeting new people really. Also, it was a good opportunity to recycle the acquired vocabulary and structures. More importantly, pupils knew each other more and this created a warm atmosphere.
2/ Reorder the following conversation and enact it with your partner (the 7th form):
What’s the matter?
A dog attacked me Doctor.
What’s the matter, Tom?
No, it isn’t, but remember to take these medicines.
Is it dangerous, Doctor?
Thank you, Doctor, goodbye.
Each pair discussed which sentence comes first, second and so on. After correcting and practising the conversation in pairs, pupils turned into Doctors and Patients: each pair enacted the conversation in front of their classmates. This, too, was so motivating and too real as there were Doctors with their white gowns and medicines (Realia)
· Group work activities:
1/ Categories: once conducted during a group session (when finishing dealing with the third module, Health and Environment). Pupils were divided into groups; chose a topic / a category from those I proposed (smoking; pollution; environment). It was about looking for all the possible words that relate to that category. They had to make sure that all members know these words (Speaking). Then they ought to write them down, forming a spider gram in order to know which group thought of more words and was the winner.
2/ An enjoyable way to recycle many grammar points covered, was the following activity. I prepared for each group 2 envelopes: the 1st contained examples of grammar points and functions and the 2nd contained a sentence/ an utterance expressing each of them.
à Pupils had, at the first stage, to read and to match the sentence with what it expresses. The most important objective was to know the rule behind each grammar point and the utterances with which we recognize such a function à each time pupils agree about a sentence, one pupil from each group has to write it (the rule / the utterance) on the board and to go back to his group to finish analyzing the remaining sentences and so on until one group gets all the answers.
à Correction (as a class)
This activity was so motivating. It was not a mere revision of grammar points in a boring, monotonous way. Rather, pupils were highly engaged; they all took part and the class was so active, especially with the background music that pleased them and let them speak freely.