ESL Student

ESL Student - Classroom Management -- SEATING ARRANGEMENT

1. Gone are the days when classrooms looked regimental- desks and chairs in a neatly arranged format. Depending on-

-Number of ESL students

-Space available

-Arrangement of desks / chairs

-Age, nationality, student personality

A teacher has the authority to organize and re-arrange the position of the students for the benefit of the learning activity, discipline or cohesion. While doing so, the teacher must keep in mind a few significant questions:

- How will it affect the classroom atmosphere and student - teacher relationship

-What activity is best suited for each possible arrangement.

-Which arrangement is most conducive for:

(a) Maintaining effective control.

(b) For student communication with each other.

You could try:

-The traditional, orderly well organized rows -- which is effective in maintaining eye contact, discipline and easy movement of teacher -- especially in larger classes.

-Circles and horse shoe which makes the classroom atmosphere more intimate, allowing all students to maintain eye contact.

-Small groups of separate tables, whereby teacher can work with one group, while others continue with their work.

2. ESL Student - What is an ideal position for the teacher: stand, sit or move around? It depends on the lesson activity.

-Standing position is best when you want everyone’s attention. You can control and monitor the class better while giving instructions, delivering a lesson or giving a presentation.

-Sitting position is more relaxed, hence appropriate in reading and writing activities, which require just occasional checking and monitoring.

-Moving around the class is useful while monitoring progress in activities, which are student centered, like role play, reading/writing, group work.

3. Though class size and furniture can be occasionally problematic, a teacher can get around to grouping students for conducting activities effectively and creatively.

ESL Student - The advantages of groups of 4 or 5 or even pairs are:

- It increases student interaction and talk time.

- It encourages students to co-operate and negotiate in English

- It allows the teacher to with a pair / group, while others continue.

-It allows students to share ideas / thoughts

-It allows stronger students to help and support the weaker ones.

- It allows students to share work responsibility

However, on the flip side, the disadvantages are:

-The class can get noisy

- Students might revert back to their native language.

- Some students may find themselves working with someone they don’t particularly like.

-Stronger students might dominate the activity, while the shy ones might not get any speaking opportunity.


1. Establishing rapport between teacher and students as well as amongst students can determine whether a class is successful and enjoyable. Some ways to establish class rapport and class spirit are:

-Begin the very first lesson with an ice breaker activity

- Invite the students to introduce themselves and provide some basic information.

- Arrange seating positions keeping the students’ levels, needs, personalities in mind.

-Give clear instructions.

-Do not spoon feed -- try to elicit from the students and get them involved.

- Use plenty of group and pair work, but change pairs/groups frequently so that they can work with a variety of people.

- Choose materials and activities that involve students talking to each other and sharing opinions. -Personalize activities to students’ interests.

- Encourage students to help each other.

-Do not let individual students dominate.

- Let them correct each other.

-Ask for comments and opinions from the students- treat them as adults.

-Show personal interest in students.

-Smile and be positive.

2. Maintaining discipline

It is important that a teacher balances between exercising autocratic control and encouraging a relaxed friendly, atmosphere conducive to learning. Initially, it is better to be in control.

a) There might be various reasons for disciplinary problems:

-Family problems

- Low self esteem


-Lack of motivation

- Peer pressure

-Lack of respect for teacher / other students.

- Class size.

-Age of students

-General school atmosphere

b) Prevention: Many disciplinary issues can be prevented or circumventedby the teacher.

-Be punctual, well prepared, enthusiastic and patient.

-Know all your students’ names-:

o To get attention.

o To acknowledge a student as an individual.

o To indicate who should respond.

o To give clear instructions to the target student.

-Be aware of all your students’ personalities and needs.

-Include all you students equally - be consistent and fair.

If necessary, spend longer with students who haven’t understood, but try to keep others busy on another task

-Question/Answer should be done at random order to keep the class on its’ toes.

-Never make a student feel small or lose confidence if he/she cannot contribute or answer -- instead ask a simpler question and praise the response.

-Never makes threats or lose your temper.

-Make your lessons interesting and varied.

-Establish good rapport with your students.

c) A teacher might have done everything possible to prevent problem behavior, but what should e teacher’s response be, in case a problem does arise?

-Keep calm, shouting doesn’t help

-Confront undisciplined behaviour at once.

Circumvent bad behavior by breaking eye contact and ignoring the student.

-Talk to the student after class, find out the problem, reprimand in private.

-Don’t make threats you cannot enforce.

-Ask colleagues for their advice if the same problem recurs with the same student.

ESL Student - Classroom Management - CONCLUSION

Behaviorists and personality theorists emphasize the importance of a learning climate in which individual and cultural differences are respected, in which anxiety levels are appropriately controlled, in which achievements are encouraged and feeling are considered to be as relevant to learning as skills and ideas.

Of equal importance is an environment of orderliness and discipline, clearly defined goals and an honest and objective feedback, tolerant to mistakes and self-improvement.

Thus, as teachers and educators, it is our task to create and provide such a climate so as to encourage and speed up the learning process.

About the Classroom Management Author:

Devanshe Chauhan

Has been in the teaching profession since 1997, of which the last 2 and half years have been as an ESL teacher / language trainer in Japan. She has worked with very young learners, teenagers at school, pre-university-college students as well as adults at the corporate level.

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