Starting a new class - Part Three: Student Expectations

Starting a new class - Part Three: Student Expectations

        
Age Group: All Ages
Subject: Classrooom Management, Listening, Speaking

When starting a new class, it’s always wise to get a sense of what your students expect of you during the first week. You can’t gear the entire course to the students’ wishes, but you should at least have some idea of what they hope for in a class. Spend a few minutes during the first few lessons listening to what students think of the teaching material, your teaching style, the school, and their own needs as students.

 

Here are a few suggestions for getting useful information from your students.

 

Sentence starters

 

Write these sentence starters on the board:

 

I think a teacher should always...

The best way to learn English is...

In this class, I hope we can do a lot of...

I don’t think it’s very useful to...

I feel learning grammar is...

I’d like to spend most of the class time...

 

Ask everyone to choose one sentence starter and finish it with their own idea. Give them a few minutes to do this. Next, go around the class and ask each student to read out a sentence. You might want to ask them some questions to get more information. Finally, tell them more about the class and your teaching style.

 

Our Favorite Activities

 

Write on the board some different things that go into a course. You can write different skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing) or different types of activities (games, dictation, worksheets, dialogues, free talk) or maybe a combination of both. Ask students to go to the board and draw a smiley face next to anything they would enjoy doing in class. When everyone is finished, look at the board. Comment on which items students seem the most interested in. Ask them if there’s anything else not on the board that they would like to do in class.

 

How I Learned English Before

 

Put students in groups of 4. Ask them to talk about English classes they’ve had before. Give them about 10 minutes, and then get a student in each group to tell the class about their experience learning English. Ask lots of questions to get more information from them. Finally, tell them about your class. You may wish to comment on some things that are similar or different from their previous learning experiences.

 

Written Comments

 

Tell your students that you would like to hear about their expectations for this course. Hand out a large sheet of blank paper to each student sitting in the front row. Ask them to write a sentence explaining what they’re hoping for in this class. For example, a student might write "I think we should focus on vocabulary." or "I want to do role play every week." Insist that they write in small letters, as the rows behind them are going to add more comments. When the students in the front row finish, tell them to pass their papers to the second row. Students in the second row have two options: they can add an additional sentence on the same topic as the first writer (agreeing or disagreeing), or write about something else. Continue until the students in the very last row have written their comments. Next, put the papers up on the board with some space between each sheet of paper. Invite the entire class to come up and write questions and comments about the other row's papers. If time permits, read out some of their sentences and comment on them.

 


 

Hall Houston teaches at Kainan University in Taoyuan County, Taiwan. His articles have been published in periodicals such as It's for Teachers, Modern English Teacher and English Teaching Professional. His first book, The Creative Classroom: Teaching Languages Outside the Box, was published in 2007 and his most recent book is Provoking Thought: Memory and Thinking in ELT. His third book, The ELT Daily Journal: Learning to Teach ESL/EFL, will be available in 2013.



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