8 Ways for English Teachers to Save a Bad Class

Source: Gaijin Pot
Men's junior high school student falls asleep.

When you step off the plane and start your adventure teaching English in Japan, the whole thing can be rather intimidating. You might have experience teaching in your home country or none at all. Either way, adapting to teaching here is going to be a challenge. It can be hard keeping students in line and on track when they speak another language. You might not understand them or they might not understand you and miscommunication can lead to some pretty disastrous lessons.

I remember the first English class I found difficult to control in Japan. The students kept sticking their tongues out and yelling “Justice!” every time I said, “just this” (a reference that I still don’t fully understand). It was stressful at the time but after teaching for a few years I’ve figured out that classes tend to have one of two problems: they can either be too quiet or too loud. The knee-jerk reactions to a loud class would be to tell the students to be quiet and to softly encourage a quiet class to speak more but with a language barrier, these tactics don’t always work.

So what to do? Here are eight ways based on my experience that can help you to save a class that feels like it’s going wrong.

If your students are too quiet…

1. Use technology to engage students

Interactive websites or apps are a great way to teach shy kids and get everyone engaged. Many ESL textbooks (such as National Geographic’s Explore Our World) have online games that test students on the book’s vocabulary and can be a really helpful teaching tool alongside regular classes. There are also many other websites that have education games such as BBC Bitesize or Games to Learn English.

To be honest, I thought a lot of these games looked …continue reading