Teachers' Questions: Big Classes in China

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Q: I'm teaching in an elementary school in China and have groups of over 80 students in each class. I don't speak Chinese and I have no idea what ideas could work. - English teacher, China

This seems to be the number one question I get from teachers in China. But don't worry, there are plenty of things you can do! If you wanted to take the easy option you could of course just play simple games with the kids, doing similar things to what they do in PE class, but adding in a little English. However with just a bit more work it is possible to do this type of lesson and still get the kids learning stuff.

First of all you need to work on controlling the class as a whole and getting them under control. Whilst you should always treat each child as an individual, in these types of class you also need to treat them as a whole so that things don't break down into chaos. This can be a little tricky without any Chinese, but using lots of TPR you should be cool. Start off with Stand up, Sit Down, making sure they can do it quickly and when you say so. Then try adding in the Simon Says Please game ( notice how it's different from the traditional version). The best technique I've found for keeping the kids' volume under control is to get them to clap, and when you raise your hand higher they clap louder, when you lower your hand they clap quieter. This works in treat in getting them quiet, and is much better than simply saying "be quiet".

Once you have this you can then start teaching some new English and the best thing for such large groups is the songs. Games can work, but more often than not a lot of time is wasted just getting things organised. With the songs you can pretty much get going straight away without any delay. I often use the Genki English songs for teaching groups up to 1000 and they really work, to be honest I don't think it would be possible without them. Ones to start off with are Rock, Paper, Scissors, How are you?, Left & Right, How old are you? and Where are you going? is my current favourite!








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Be genki,

Richard



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