How do you deal with student behaviour?

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Teachers can face many different types of students. Mostly students are respectful and good learners, but occasionally, there are students that persist in making the teacher’s life hard work. These are the times when the teacher must use classroom management to overcome any such problems. A teacher can deal with difficulty, but these issues must be dealt with sufficiently without disruption to the other students who are willing learners. A teacher studies how to teach and be proficient in their profession but can easily come undone by a disruptive student. This is where the rest of the class can be disturbed and all the teachers’ quality lesson planning comes to an abrupt delay in proceedings. In this essay, I will highlight problems in the classroom and provide ideas to help minimize bad discipline.

To begin with, it is important for the teacher to instill good discipline in the class. They must start off by getting to know the students. The teacher can greet the students as they come in; this may spot potential trouble makers. The teacher must learn all students’ names as soon as possible – within the first three days of school. The teacher needs to establish a routine in his classroom as soon as possible. The teacher should have a plan that incorporates what they expect from the students as well as expectations of themselves. The teacher should have a few (three to five) basic overarching rules in place to help govern student behavior in the classroom. The students should know and understand the rules. These must be taught and reinforced as if they were curriculum, repeating them often as needed. All of these rules should be practiced from the off. From day one, the teacher should have a classroom management plan and stick to it. The teacher can not have double standards, what the teacher says, they should maintain. The teacher when possible could even involve their students in developing the rules. Above all, the teacher needs to be regimented if they are to make sure each lesson is not inhibited by any disruptive students. They can set homework and check to see who has done it. This will show who is willing to learn. All work must be checked thoroughly. If the students see that they can get away with poor behaviour they will do it. For example, if a student’s behaviour steadily gets worse and worse, with no discipline given by the teacher, the one time the teacher has reached their perceived limit, the teacher may have a hard task of trying to stop the behaviour which should not have been allowed to reach this level in the first place. The teacher should be aware of problem students and situations that may disrupt the class and put a stop to it before it escalates. 

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Sounds in Language

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Words are made up of units of sound. English can be very distinct from other languages by the way the mouth is used to articulate a word.  A speaker of English can distinguish between a B and T in words such as ‘den’ and ‘ten’. They can also hear the vowels in words such as ‘pat’ or ‘pen’. These two previous words would be examples of using vowels in English, but English has words like ‘dead’ or ‘dared’ which include vowels sounds but not in the general sense of the vowel sound rules AEIO and U. The units of sound are now put into categories as short vowels or long vowels.

The words sounds and slices can be used to describe how a word such as ‘pat’ includes three sounds; the ‘P’ sound then ‘A’ and ‘T’. This word is then a slice of a sentence. The main factor is that a phrase with the words ‘those three oranges’ highlights where successive vowels and consonants can be heard with some with higher stresses on them.

Moreover, attention can be drawn to the use of the mouth and tongue when enunciating any word. English speakers have a distinct use of the mouth that enables them to say their vowels and consonants in words. There are sound differences even within English, but there are further differences if a native speaker wanted to learn Italian. Using an Italian word such as ‘babbo’ for daddy, the English person would say it in a normal English speaking way, but as with the Italian language, the vocal cords begin to vibrate before the mouth is opened. The crossover of languages shows the use of the same letter sounds which can be easily heard as other letters by other speakers of another language.

One final aspect of language is the movement of the lips and the posture of the tongue. Phrases like ‘three cleans’ or ‘two clues’ draw attention to the use of the lips and tongue. There is certain timing for both which is in the mouth position when carrying over from word to word or syllable to syllable.  This shows the main crux of language when talking about sound units; we are looking at the way the speaker constructs a voice utterance.

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A Study of Phonology/Syntax/Morphology

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Language is one of man’s greatest abilities. It is a human instinct. Where would we be without language? Language is a complex system that is used in all its complexity in many facets around the world. The function of language is to build symbols for concepts by means of sounds. We can wonder, predict, order, and ask, from the myriad of verbal uses. One language may have various dialects, which is seen by those who use them as languages in their own right. There are about 6,000 languages spoken worldwide. These languages around the world still use the same kinds of grammar although different patterns were formed from the many races of people. This is what we come to recognize, as our own colloquial methods of using language, be it by rules or duplication of others. All known languages have words or word-like elements combined in accordance with certain rules into sentences. Nouns and verbs are the two fundamental grammatical categories that appear in all these language around the globe. Nouns and verbs are used in grammar which is the branch of language study or linguistics. It deals with the means of showing the relationship between words in use. It seems so simple to speak but underneath that simplicity marks rules that show how all the vocal sounds fall into place. It is below the surface of language that I will talk about in this paper. I will focus on syntax (order of words), morphology (the form of words), and phonology (speech sounds) which are some of the specific rules inside of language/grammar. I would like to show how language works in its fascinating way, looking at these three linguistic usages.

There are rules for grammar that, if some of us can remember, were studied at school. This is what we call prescriptive grammar that lays down rules of usage. Such prescriptions amount to a kind of linguistic etiquette that we are supposed to uphold but actually bear little to the underlying grammar that makes communications possible. On the other side, there are descriptive colloquial methods that are characterized in different dialects in conversation. ‘I seen’ or ‘I done’ may not conform to the standard of correctness demanded of cultivated speech, but these expressions cultivate a meaning. This is the study of how people communicate despite the rules. Wherever we live, in each person we are given the ability to say an endless amount of sentences that may never have been said by anyone before. Linguists study this language, their aim is to describe all the permissible patterns of combinations and formulate them as abstract rules that underlie everyday linguistic behavior. These studies notice the language’s syntax, morphology, and phonology. It is noticed that between human individuals, there can be wide differences in cognitive strategies and specifically in modes of perception or action. These differences between individuals, generalized to a language community, provide the basis for differences between the lexicons and syntaxes of different languages.

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The classroom, language acquisition and Stephen Krashen

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I think a few of you can recall I mentioned Stephen Krashen a few times and his theory on comprehensible input.  Of course, time is always with us over the two days, so I am always reticent to talk too long about certain theories, although I hope I do highlight it efficiently and effectively. So, I have written a few extra notes on language acquisition, the classroom and Krashen and his approach and theory that will hopefully make you think more about what goes on in the learning environment and the approach you take in teaching the students.

To begin with, an EFL instructor can be a fantastic teacher but how does he/she know if the students are ‘acquiring the language’ in the way they should be which is natural and not forced.  ‘Acquiring language’ is one of the salient points in children’s actual acquisition of a language. It is a fact that children, in a natural settings learn language rapidly and without formal instruction. Children are not given formal education when they are very young yet they acquire their language progressively to being fluent. It makes me think of some Thai schools I worked in where they barrage the students with grammar that is in such a formal setting that doesn’t leave any room for talking. The students can be very good at grammar but cannot speak and quite a few seem very shy also. Furthermore, if the students are not relaxed in the classroom (the setting) the teacher cannot expect them to learn. You would hope they learn their second language the same as their first language in a natural way where children never felt the language was demanding or never felt pressured and weren’t inhibited to use it.

The classroom as a setting I think should not be a place that is far from reality such that students can only speak in the classroom not outside where it is most important. I think that as a teacher the authenticity of the teacher’s teaching and the classroom has to be right so as to enlighten the learning experience. The issue here is students often learn their second language through constant grammar study so the similarity between it being similar to a natural, childhood, first language acquisition and later second language acquisition is not apparent. Thus creating a real classroom experience is a must for the students. The use of real objects, pictures, videos, roleplays, situations, even field trips (not forgetting the teacher/facilitator’s approach) to get the feeling that the students will use this language outside the classroom in numerous settings is a must.

Stephen Krashen whose ‘acquisition theory’ is used in teaching, states that ‘language learners need language ‘input’ which consists of new language along with clues as to what the language means’. As a teacher, you should follow this path that allows the students to speak in class while giving them that little bit more to expand their language. The teacher should build on what the students already know. I think this normal delivery of speech and with ‘hands-on’ language acquisition experience facilitates the natural learning process. If you remember when you were a child and your parents never really gave you a formal education in language acquisition, here lies comprehensible input that naturally supplies children: it is slower and simpler. Moreover, it focuses on the here and now, it focuses on meaning over form, and it extends and elaborates on the child’s language.

I think the students should not be treated like kids but you should allow the students to speak and acquire more language as they use their already known language such that the process will follow that the students will acquire more in your interesting natural approach classes.


What are ‘Instructional Objectives’ in the class?

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As any self-respecting teacher would know that in class if you do not know where your class is heading you will never get there. This is true for any teacher who enters a classroom intending to give their students an education that will further expand the students’ knowledge. This means that objectives need to be set. This means instructional objectives need to be attained. The methods and training that the teachers will implement during the class should be incorporated in reaching everyone’s goals and objectives. The teacher has to discover whether the students leaving the classroom have demonstrated their language/skills acquisition. It has to be clear in the teacher’s mind that the students will exit the class having broadened their ideas/knowledge in while being able to talk about something new.

There has to be a teaching approach that the teacher utilizes to formulate the students’ learning that enhances aptitude. One way is for the teacher to state what they would like the students to be able to do at the end of the class although the ‘in-between’ phase needs to be verified. This also relates to the students who should know what their objectives are. This is by stating exactly what they should be able to achieve in the specified time. This is done by explaining the objectives to the students. Objectives need to be stated. The first step is to write an objective. The teacher must know what they want the students to be able to do. Objectives are clearly stated using action verbs like ‘define’ and ‘describe’.  Objectives look at the students showing/defining what they have learnt. The teacher will never know unless they see and hear for himself. The students’ learning is imperative and making objectives that are not achievable will not help their learning. The teacher must be clear in their head what the measurable objectives for the students are. An objective is a written statement, defining in precise terms, what the learner will be able to do at the end of the training and how well. A teacher is faced with setting out understandable objectives. A verb like ‘know’, which clearly does not allow the teacher to define the student’s capacity of knowledge, will not help achievement. So, many verbs can be open to interpretation such as ‘know, understand, and think’ clearly do not prove to the teacher that the student is in command of new expressions and terms. Verbs like ‘define and describe’ will undoubtedly illustrate to the instructor the depth of the students’ language acquisition. This means that teachers do not just have objectives per se but clear objectives that define the learning outcome. There has to be some form of accomplishment at the end of the class or term. A factor that has to be taken into account is; are the objectives achievable? It acceptable to have objectives but if they surpass what the student level is at, the objectives will not work. These have to be arranged in a format that will allow the students to learn. These objectives have to be measurable and observable.

The teacher also has to determine the domain in which the objective can be classified. There are generally 3 domains cognitive, affective, and psycho-motor. Benjamin Bloom and his colleagues (1956) developed a widely accepted taxonomy for cognitive objectives. The main domain is cognitive. Bloom further classified the cognitive domain into 6 levels. The lowest level is knowledge. This is the students’ ability to recall information. The teachers can the students to state, recall, tell, and define. The next level is comprehension. The students must be able to grasp meaning, explain and restate ideas. There is also evaluation during the course of learning where the teacher has to see how far the students have developed. Of course, teaching and student’s acquisition of language is not as straightforward as would seem. Some students need that extra bit of tuition which is standard. This is where feedback comes in. The teacher has to evaluate the students. The students have to develop through the instructional process and if this does not work first time the teacher has to have a plan to reinforce the objective and set the students on the right path. The students need to improve so as not too elongated learning where it becomes tedious. This also helps the group where everyone is working together. For a group/class, task analysis is used a lot by many institutions which progressively test the students to evaluate their level of acquisition and are they achieving the objectives. Robert Mager defined three conditions of objectives. Learning objectives determine the outcomes and how they are to be assessed with the all modules having clear, defined objectives, practice exercises, and mastery tests. A good learning objective has to have three primary components of an objective:

  1. An objective always describes the important conditions (if any) under which the performance is to occur.
  2. An objective always says what a learner is expected to be able to do; the objective sometimes describes the product or the result of the doing.
  3. Wherever possible, an objective describes the criterion of acceptable performance by describing how well the learner must perform in order to be considered acceptable.

I have shown how teachers should not only look have objectives but also make those objectives quantifiable for the students. This means that the teacher will get an enhanced picture of the students learning. This, of course, means that the teacher can focus not only each lesson but the whole term to achieve certain objectives.