Student Discipline in the EFL Classroom
1. Play the video below to start this lesson.
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2 .We have created a podcast to complement this lesson.
Student Discipline in the EFL Classroom Podcast - 15 minutes
You can download all our podcasts from our podcast page.
3. Basic Concepts
The best way to deal with student discipline in the EFL classroom is to have a good lesson plan that is active and encourages the participation of every student in the room. An active student is not usually a problem student.
That said, many students are not in the EFL classroom because they want to be. Many are there because their school or university program requires it, their employer requires it or their parents put them in the class. A few parents even use language schools as a babysitting service. So, sometimes, problems can be expected.
No matter what the problem, the best policy is to keep your cool. In fact, the best advice is to always act on a problem BEFORE you get upset while you can still think rationally and calmly about solving it. Plan ahead for dealing with common problems.
Set clear rules and explain them to students the first day of class. Be serious about the rules and enforce them consistently, without showing any upset and you are on your way.
Students who talk a lot or misbehave in a mild manner can often be quieted just by your presence if you stand next to them. Even quite disruptive teenagers can often be settled down with a simple gentle hand placed on their shoulder. You don't have to say anything; they get the message. Try not to take things too seriously. Just enforce rules with a smile on your face so as to not upset the rest of the class. Adults generally are not too problematic though in some cultures they can be.
Children present a special challenge. Remember the old rule that the length of an activity for a child should be no longer than double their age minus two and some suggest age equals length of activity. Thus a four-year-old child can probably only tolerate an activity of six minutes or less and then you should move on.
Children will often act out for your attention and it would be best to study some basic psychology and behavior modification techniques to keep a handle on them. Generally speaking, giving a child attention for unwanted behavior is not a good idea. It is far better to target the child right next to the misbehaving child and reward them for doing what you want the problem child to do (like sitting down or working on the assigned task).
It is important to get some idea from your employer what rules they feel should be enforced and what they recommend you do about discipline problems. Language schools are typically private businesses and need you to deal with any problems gently, positively and in a way that doesn't chase their customers away. Ask the other teachers what the school enforces and if they "back up" their teachers. Some don't and it is better to know that before you have to press a point and lose.
Know that what might be perceived as "cheating" in the Western world might be considered "helping your friends" in some other cultures. Here, prevention is the best action. Move desks far apart and even all the way up to the front and back walls during examinations. Don't allow cheating but don't get too stressed by it. It is sometimes a cultural issue more than anything else.
Discipline in the EFL classroom is no different than discipline in any other type of classroom with the simple exception that you have one more thing to frustrate your students and that is language.
The enjoyable video below provides ten important points for classroom management
The following video is longer and more detailed, but she has some great ideas too.
Try to find a compromise between her details and the first videos more relaxed approach.
They are both great!
4. Expanded Concepts
Read the following link for excellent advice, information and help with discipline issues in the classroom.
Top 10 Tips for Successful Classroom Discipline
- read this page and peruse the links as well -
That should give you a good start and get you thinking about positive discipline and motivation.