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Large Class Instructor Training

Large Class Instructor Training

When teaching large groups, the opportunity for the students to speak is obviously limited. Techniques
adopted during the class should aim to maximize student talking time, be fun for the students to do, and at
the same time keep the whole class engaged.
Below is a list of simple ideas that can be used while teaching large groups. It is not a complete list and you
shouldn’t feel that you have to restrict yourself to using only the techniques described below.

Small groups or pairs?

Some techniques lend themselves better to either pair work or small groups, but most can be successfully
used for both. Which is better usually depends on the class, especially the size. Five or six small groups are
easier to manage than 12 to 15 pairs.

Assigning roles to group members

To keep all the members of a group engaged in an activity that may, or may not, only require two people,
roles can be assigned to the group members, or the group members can assign themselves. The roles can
include the ‘recorder’ (the person who records the activity in writing), and the ‘time keeper’.
Obviously, the number of roles assigned depend on the size of the group. The ‘reporter’ role can be an
important addition to groups with three members.

Reporting back
After asking the students to do something it is important that you give them the opportunity to show what
they have done. With some kinds of tasks this will be ‘reporting back’ to the class what the group has
decided or created. In the case of role-plays, it’s obviously a performance of the role-play in front of the

Forming groups
There are lots of techniques for getting your class to make themselves into groups. You can ask the students
to count from 1 to the number of groups desired. And then all the 1s form one group, the 2s form another
group, etc.
You can use the class list, simply read out the names that you want to form one group, and then the names
of the next group, etc.
You can think of ways to split the class. If you want four groups ask the people born in the summer to get
together, people born in the winter to get together, etc. If you want six groups, then the people born in
January and February get together, March and April get together, etc.

Picking students
Asking for volunteers doesn’t always work! And if it does, then you’ll find it is always the same one or two
students. Of course, you can choose people by name, ,but this is difficult in the first few lessons.
You can also ask a student to give you a number from 1 to however many students are in your class and
then read the name from the register.
Some techniques allow you to ask the students to participate in turn.
Some techniques allow you to ask the students to select the next participant.

Questions in order or at random?

Similar to above, if you ask students to ask questions at their own free will you might be waiting for a long

Large Class Instructor Training

In the first few classes it is probably better to ask the students to ask questions in order. It is also possible to
call out the name of the student you wish to ask a question. This can also help you learn their names.

WORD GRID: On a grid of about 15 by 20, ask the students, in groups or pairs, to write in as many words as
they can for a given topic. This is a good warm-up exercise. You can either set a time limit and then the
group with the most words wins, or you can set a target, the first group to reach the target wins.

WRITING LISTS: If you need a list of anything then get the students to do it. Give a student a board marker
and ask them to write something on the board. The student then passes the pen on to the next student who
writes something else on the board.

INFORMATION GAP EXERCISE: Give a student some information, or let them decide on the information
themselves, and ask other students to find the information. It can be something very simple like a club or a
sport, or something more complicated.

DESCRIPTIONS: This is an easy-to-do exercise after you’ve written a list on the board. Ask the students to
come to the front in turn and describe one of the things in the list without saying the word.

GESTURES: This is an easy-to-do exercise after you’ve written a list on the board. Ask the students to come
to the front in turn and gesture one of the things in the list.

YES/NO QUESTIONS: When practicing any yes/no question you can ask each student to come to the front
in turn and ask other students questions. They must find a ‘yes’ answer and a ‘no’ answer. You can extend
this activity by asking the student to ask additional questions (i.e., When? What? Who with? etc.)

TRUE OR FALSE: Give each student a small piece of paper and ask them to write sentences about
themselves, or in some cases family members, but some sentences must be true and some must be false.
(In most cases, positive sentences are better.) A different student is given the piece of paper and they have
to decide which sentences they think are true or false.

CLASSROOM CHAMPION SURVEY: Split the class into two groups and ask them to write a list for
whatever topic you’re doing. Collect these ideas and form ‘the list’ on the board. First they fiind their group
champion, and then you bring the group champions to the front to find the classroom.

(QUIZ): Give each student a piece of paper, or more if needed, and ask them to write questions. Collect the
questions and give them to one student. The quiz master asks other students the questions until a student
gets the answer wrong, and then they become the quiz master. Good for comparatives, superlatives, relative
clauses, ‘how’ questions, simple past, etc.

(BATTLESHIPS): A shortened version of the game, on a 4 by 4 or 5 by 5 grid, is good for

‘anything’/’something’. Instead of a grid you can use a photocopy of a calendar page. The students have to
write some things on a certain number of dates and other groups have to find these dates. Good for future
tenses, past tenses.

(BINGO): Ask each student to draw a 3 by 3 grid. In each square they have to write a question. Each
student comes to the front and asks other students two questions. Students who wrote the same question
can cross their question off. The first person to cross off all of their questions is the winner. Good for yes/no
questions, especially ‘Can you…?’

Large Class Instructor Training

The following are different ideas for adjusting the way that you set-up and conduct role-plays during the
lesson. In most situations it’s possible that more than one of the following can be adopted and it’s entirely up
to the instructor to select the one that is best suited to their lesson plan and teaching style.
Ideally, all role-plays should be performed in front of the class.
Most role-plays can be extended by asking the students to include ‘listening questions’, which can be either
written on the board before the role-play performance or done verbally.
A. (Two people – situation given) In pairs or small groups, the students are asked to write a role-play
involving two people for a given situation. Two people will perform the conversation. (Possible
situations: odering a pizza on the phone, buying something from a shop, complaining to a noisy
B. (Two or more people – situation not given) In pairs or small groups, the students are asked to write a
role-play involving two (or more) people, but no situation is given. Instead, the students are asked to
write the conversation based on a title, a piece of language, or a list of items. (Possible role plays:
‘Where were you yesterday?’, four sentences using ‘until’, ‘by’, ‘ago’, and ‘from… to’.)
C. (Two people – mixing performers) In pairs or small groups, the students are asked to write a role-
play involving two people in a given situation. Because the conversations will be very similar you can
ask any two students to perform the conversation. Randomly (or not so randomly) ask two students,
who have not worked on the role-play together, to stand and perform the role-play. (Possible
situations: asking someone for a date, making a reservation.)
D. (Involves all group members) In small groups the students are asked to write a role-play that
involves each member of the group. The performance will include everyone in the group. (Possible
situations: boss and lazy workers, waiter and customers in a restaurant, shop staff and customers in
a busy shop.)
E. (Involves all group members – mixing main character) In small groups, the students are asked to
write a role-play that involves each member of the group. The students are asked to assign each
other roles within their group. You then ask one person from one group (i.e., the waiter) to perform
the role-play with students from another group (in this case, the customers). (Possible situations: in
a restaurant, in a shop, on a flight.)
F. (Mixing groups) In small groups, the students are asked to write a role-play or a list of questions for
a given situation. Students from different groups are then asked to come to the front and a member
from a different group is asked to perform the role-play with the people at the front or ask the people
at the front the questions that their group have prepared. (Possible situations: looking for a gym to
join, looking for a new employee, looking for a hotel to stay in, looking for a new apartment.)
G. (Whole class) In small groups, the students are asked to write a list of questions for a given
situation. A member of a group, or the entire group, comes to the front and other people from the
class ask questions. The questions can be voluntary or each member of the class asks a question in
turn. (Possible situations: asking about a vacation, asking about a date.)