When it comes to building discipline in the English classroom, teachers usually give many verbal directions to stop or discoirage students's disruptive behavior. However, these verbal directions might not always be appropriate. In this short blog entry, we want to provide teachers with some ideas that can be helpful guidelines.
Technique 1: Use positive directions
When we use positive directions, we get higher compliance than when we use negative directions. Compare the following types of directions:
"Don´t make noise"
Technique 2: State rules impersonally
For example you can say “the rule in this class is not wearing caps in the classroom”, or the rule in this house is not pushing your sister rather than you taking ownership of the rule.
“In the classroom we always use English to ask for permission to go to the bathroom”
Technique 3: Give Alpha Commands
Alpha commands involve a clear, direct, and specific statement without additional verbalizations, and they allow reasonable period of five to ten seconds for the child to respond. Alpha commands are short and they tell the child exactly what to do.
“Put your toys on the shelf”
Technique 4: Give more request and fewer commands
Do not give a command if a request would do it as well. When doing it consider the following:
-Stay close to the child
-Make eye contact
-Limit yourself to two requests, making the same request only twice.
-Use soft, but firm voice.
-Give time for the child to comply with your request.
-Reward compliance with a mile and a “Thank you”
Technique 5: Use forced choices
To make sure the child does the behavior we want, we limit the choices given to the child to only two.
“You can paint the book right now or you can start completing the workbook”
Technique 6: Use pauses
We can add a pause before or after the key message, suggestion, or command in a sentence or paragraph to enhance the persuasive power of the message.
“Would you please…sit down?”
Technique 7: Voice regulation
This technique has four sequential steps:
When teaching English, classroom interaction is a key element in order to develop students' language abilitites. In order to promote this interaction teachers have to use questions all the time for different purposes. The use of questions happen through all the different instances of an English lesson because they allow the teacher to elicit information that can help identify students' needs, opinions, levels of achievement, preferences, and so on. How can teachers be sure that the questions they ask are of real value for their students?
Penny Ur (2012), in her book "A course in English Language Teaching," presents a simple checklist that can easily guide treachers in the construction and discrimination of the type of questions they ask, This classlist can refine the questions used to promote interaction in the classroom and at the same time maximize students' responses and demands on their practice of English. The following chart shows the checklist:
Adapted from Penny Ur (2012) "A course in English Language Teaching"
Let's analize how the next two quetions adjust to the checklist:
It is clear that having a amore defined criteria as the one presented by Ur can help teacher make better decissions on the questions they ask and refine their questions when planning lesson.
Atkinson (1987: 241-247) offers a list of nine reasons for using L1 in the EFL classroom:
1. Eliciting Language
“How do you say ‘X’ in English?”
2. Checking comprehension
“How do you say ‘I’ve been waiting for ten minutes in Spanish?”
3. Giving complex instructions to basic levels
4. Co-operating in groups
Learners compare and correct answers to exercises or tasks in the L1.
5. Explaining classroom methodology at basic levels
6. Using translation to highlight a recently taught language item
7. Checking for sense
If students write or say something in the L2 that does not make sense, have them try to translate it into the L1 to realize their error.
Translation items can be useful in testing mastery of forms and meanings.
9. Developing circumlocution strategies.
When students do not know how to say something in the L2, have them think if (sic) different ways to say the same thing in the L1, which may be easier to translate.
One of the difficulties English teachers always have is getting students to understand the instructions to develop one activity or task. This is more frequent when the teachers has to speak only in English in order to provide students with more input. One easy step teachers can take to overcome this difficulty is to use questions to verify understanding of instructions. The following is a sample interaction teachers could follow to be sure instructions were clearly understood:
T: (While delivering instructions) In this activity you need to work in groups, discuss if you agree or not with the following statement: "It's a bad idea for university students to have part time jobs." After five minutes, you will choose someone from the group to present your conclusions to the class. Carlos, What is the statement you'l talk about?
Carlos: We need to talk about university students and part time jobs...Is it good?
T: Fine. Maria, how much time do you have for this activity?
Maria: Ten minutes.
T: Not really, I said you have five minutes.
Maria: Ok, five minutes.
T: Jose, what will you do after the discussion?
Jose: We will select someone to present the conclusion.
T. Yes, that's right...You can start now.
The following are some tips to ask more effective questions when verifying understanding.
-Ask these questions after instructions have been given to students.
-Try to use Wh-questions.
-Call on individual students.
-Provide students with feedback after their responses.