For many who teach English abroad, one of the biggest challenges is to teach speaking skills to a large class of 30 or more students. When there are so many students, it is difficult to get them to practice enough in order to continue improving. The other three macro skills – reading, writing and listening – sometimes present difficulties in logistics, organization and mostly marking because of the sheer amount of students’ work; however, when it comes to teaching speaking skills, the number of students makes it more difficult to organize activities and foster participation in the classroom.
Oftentimes, when ESL teachers ask a large group of students to do a reading comprehension exercise there are two common outcomes that are not ideal. On the one hand, students get bored and distracted fairly quickly and don’t do their work. On the other hand, they work quietly – maybe too quietly – and the lack of noise and interaction makes students feel sleepy. These outcomes are far from what we would like to happen in the ESL class and none of them is conducive to the real development of reading skills and the overall language development and improvement of our students.
Making sure that reading comprehension exercises resemble real life situations is one way to ensure that our students get the most from the lesson.