Diary submitted by Adam Mc M, Valencia
Timing is one of the main challenges especially for inexperienced EFL teachers. With the best intentions, the language school will provide a guideline of how to manage time in the classroom. Usually, this will reflect how the new teacher can tackle grammar, reading, writing, speaking and listening into one lesson.
In my time teaching with TEFL Trainer we were given such a framework. Usually the class would begin and end with a short focus on writing. Since a writing task was given out at the end of every lesson, the teacher had the opportunity to help the student with any problems they had by handing them the corrected homework and asking if they had any questions. I would regularly also incorporate writing at the end by asking each student to use at least three new words covered in the lesson and structuring the task in such a way that they would focus on the grammar point covered in the lesson. Reading and speaking would be easily covered in the middle of the lesson by covering the grammar points, which involved reading and speaking out loud.
In terms of which teaching approach is best to amplify the students’ chances of learning as much as they can, a mix would usually work well. In terms of managing time with children, who tend to have a shorter attention span, incorporating some form of learning using Total Physical Response would keep them engaged. This means you can focus on the grammar or vocabulary they need to cover and keep them engrossed enough to cover everything one wishes to. The teacher could do this by telling the student that every 10 minutes they will play a short version of the children’s game, ‘Simon Says’. Allowing both the student and teacher 2 turns before returning to the task. This would ensure that the student can both understand and act on command but also return said commands, thus demonstrating a further level of understanding. Adults on the other hand tend to have fewer problems and can benefit from an almost completely student-centred method or by having the teacher split the time 70-30 between the student and themselves. Giving the student more time to practice and allowing the teacher to only elicit information my asking targeted questions to help the student figure out the answers for themselves – this in turn encouraging them to retain that information in the future.
In total, it seems that the teacher needs to be more conscious of time around children as they are more likely to become distracted, thus offsetting the lesson plan. Working around this by allowing less than five minutes of play, a method that especially helps children learn, can help overcome any problems and keep them on track. Adults in general can maintain their focus and continue with a student-centred class, which will help them get the most out of their time with a teacher.