Teaching ESL

Icebreakers for private classes?
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Author:  glenn [ Fri May 13, 2011 9:03 am ]
Post subject:  Icebreakers for private classes?

I'm on my third year teaching elementary school in Asia (Korea and then Japan), and I use kind of a Genki English approach, although with mostly different materials. It works quite well in the classes but I think a large part of the success is that the students are already familiar with each other so they don't feel embarrassed about singing loudly and doing silly dances or running around the classroom (at least until 6th grade ;-) ).

I started a few group private classes with elementary and preschool kids and the classroom dynamics seem very different to me. I don't have any sort of curriculum to follow and the textbook I've been given doesn't fit the students at all, so I've been using a lot of MES and Dream English materials. It's a much more relaxed atmosphere without the jumping around and yelling of the GE style, but I feel like the kids are still a bit nervous and don't really know each other well. Is it possible to have private classes with kids that didn't know each other previously and to still use a high-energy style? Or is that best fit to the elementary environment? Should I use some sort of icebreakers to kind of get the class familiar with each other? With the smaller classes (under 15), it's possible to do more "learning" and less just having fun like I do with the elementary classes, so does this demand a different teaching approach?

Author:  mesmark [ Fri May 13, 2011 11:59 am ]
Post subject: 

In my experience, I pretty much agree with all of your assumptions.

In larger classes, it much easier to get that high-energy mob-mentality. There is less individual focus and people tend to get swept along. But in smaller groups, that sort of takes full participation from all members. There's no one to be swept along.

I've also found that smaller groups can get much more accomplished. The larger the group, the less we can do in 50 min. Or rather, with larger groups the same type of learning takes more time. It takes longer to organize. It takes longer to monitor. People can be lost for a long span of time until you are able to recognize there's a problem and help. So, I think it is important to adjust your style and activities when going from a smaller class to a larger class. You can still do the same things but the way you approach it might need to be altered.

Author:  glenn [ Mon May 16, 2011 9:08 am ]
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Do you do anything in particular to let the students get more familiar with each other? Do they eventually end up feeling comfortable or is there always a bit of separation compared to the public schools? I'm not saying that it's bad if the students don't feel as comfortable in private classes - I think it might be just the nature of the beast. I have noticed that I can get a lot more done in the same amount of time as far as "teaching" goes.

Author:  bacondanbing [ Wed Jun 29, 2011 3:36 pm ]
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I know how you feel.. In my experience, just try to have a story, intro new vocab thru the story, focus on new vocab and grammar. Since there are still 5-15 kids, try to do role playing where each takes turn ACTING out the senario.. Switch the roles on-the-fly, role reversals are key to successful classes. I think that it is great you still are working with a small GRouP; as I have been given the task of personal (one-on-one) tutoring, it has been very tricky figuring out a technique to keep younger ones interested for 100 mins or so. It takes time, but as the teacher, you definately need to do your homework :lol: materials and story/theme is key

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