Learning a new language can be tough. Sitting in one place for an hour or more doesn’t make it any easier. Adding some opportunities for movement during class time can help keep your students motivated and can help them learn better.
What is independent learning?
Independent learning is:
Reflective: students think about what they have learned and what it means
Connected: students make connections between what they are learning, what they know already, and what they experience in the world outside the classroom
Self-directed: students do not wait for the teacher to tell them what to learn- they are read to create learning experiences on their own
Teachers are often confronted with students who just don’t seem to be learning as well as others in the class, or who seem to struggle with the course material. Before jumping to any conclusions about why a student might not be making the expected progress, it’s important to consider some of the factors that can have a definite impact on a student’s learning.
Sometimes it can be difficult in large ESL classes to get students to speak up and participate in class discussions, so teachers will often have students form smaller groups for speaking activities. There are occasions, though, when a whole class discussion can really take off if students are enthusiastic about a topic and are eager to participate.
When ESL students are asked to describe a favourite teacher or a teacher they feel they learned a lot from, they often describe someone who was kind, funny, or nice. In other words, good rapport is often the first thing that comes to mind. Establishing and maintaining a positive rapport with your students not only leaves a lasting impression on them, it also facilitates learning in the classroom.
ESL learners come into the classroom with a wide variety of proficiency, backgrounds, and expectations. These factors, and others, influence the motivation learners have to invest time and effort in their learning. There are many things that a teacher can do to motivate learners while teaching in the classroom, but it is also very important to consider learner motivation when planning instruction.
Having students work in groups offers many advantages. Group work can increase the amount of practice available to each student and help to individualize instruction. Furthermore, group work can create a more relaxed learning environment and motivate learners by involving them personally. Perhaps most importantly in terms of SLA, group work can facilitate learner interaction, providing learners with access to the linguistic input they need in order to advance their language skills.
Attending behavior would definitely be different in a larger class compared to a smaller class. For example in a smaller class the teacher might use strategies such as eye contact, or touch (in some cultures this is not common, though) to encourage students to talk (or in some cases discourage talking or a reprimanding look to discourage talking). Other strategies such as using a student’s name, nodding or smiling could be used effectively in smaller classes but would also work well in a larger class.