We all know that establishing and maintaining a positive classroom atmosphere is a must. Our learners will respond well to us if they get support and encouragement. They will want to be active and engaged if they can feel confident and get on well with their peers.
Easier said than done? How can we control the class and avoid anxious feelings?
I suggest a few good habits that you may wish to develop.
- Find out about your learners’ background, habits, preferences. Start your course by conducting Needs Analysis. There are many tools you can use for doing that but the most obvious will be talking to your learners and observing them.
- Choose and exploit appropriate activities in terms of the topic, level of challenge and variety. Don’t be afraid to change the coursebook materials to meet your learners’ needs. You may well use some authentic texts, plenty of supplementary activities and student-generated tasks.
- Reflect on your teaching experience consistently and keep track of all successful activities and techniques that have worked well with this group. Consider experimenting and changing unsuccessful activities turning them into something appealing to your learners.
- Introduce and help learners get into a routine to make them feel secure, which will also help you save time in future. By this I mean that you don’t have to waste your time on giving instructions if they are aware of what is going to happen next.
- Negotiate and create a set of rules so that your learners know what to expect, for example, you can work on Class Contract.
- Introduce new things gradually so that the learners are well-prepared for the changes. You may want to use a new game at the end of the lesson or show an authentic video. Give the learners a lot of scaffolding and support before asking them to do what you want them to do. They are more likely to enjoy something new if there is no rush.
- Don’t raise your voice and speak at a natural pitch to avoid noise and disruptions.
- Be attentive to the learners’ contributions and react naturally to them. Remember that the learners want to communicate with you in a natural way, which motivates them to continue their study.
- Praise the learners for their ideas, attitude and good language use. Positive reinforcement cannot be undervalued.
- Promote learner autonomy and help the learners develop an image of a good learner. They need to be aware of some learning strategies that can help them recycle, find information and clarify something. It might be worth working on record keeping and recommending them some reference books.
- Help the learners identify their strengths and set realistic goals for enhancing their language skills. I believe this should be an ongoing process as the short-term and long-term objectives might change with time.