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Home arrow Job News arrow Latest arrow Teacher's Perspective; Managing the Italian ESL Classroom
Teacher's Perspective; Managing the Italian ESL Classroom PDF Print E-mail

Teaching the English language to students of different cultures is a job that requires you to learn as much as you teach. Italian elementary school students can be a mixed bag; some are very ambitious and skilled, others are very ambitious but not so skilled, others are not ambitious but very skilled and yet others are neither ambitious nor skilled. Confused? Welcome to the Italian elementary ESL classroom.

There’s something to be said about the Italian personality’s pension for expressing itself. Even the youngest of learners make it quite obvious what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling.I’ve developed a way of working with these different types of students that has proven beneficial for everyone involved (including me the teacher and my peace of mind), but it must be implemented as soon as possible.

You can usually spot the most difficult students on the first day of class, as well as the strongest ones.Make a note next to each student’s name after introductions to indicate which type of student he/she is.

For example:

Ilenia: 7 years old. A/S (ambitious and skilled)

Jonathan: 8 years old S/NA (skilled not ambitious)

Chiara: 8 years old A/NS (ambitious not skilled)

Paolo: 7 years old NA/NS (not ambitious not skilled)

Set up a seating chart where the students are in ideal pairs. Put ambitious and skilled students next to students with little ambition and skill. Pair very ambitious but not skilled students with very skilled but not ambitious students. Seat the stronger student to the right of the weaker student.Using the examples above, the first pair would be Ilenia and Paolo. The next pair would be Jonathan and Chiara.

In these pairs, the students will learn from reciprocating- whether it is ambition, skill, or both.In the case of the student with no ambition and little skill, you might notice that one or the other becomes less of a deficit after a few sessions.

The stronger student will most likely strengthen the inherent ability or ambition in the weaker student- in some cases both. The stronger students will continue to improve by reinforcing what they already know while helping their partner.In the case of the student with a lot of ambition but little skill, you might notice an improvement in ability after a few sessions.

 The students with more skill will find it difficult not to correct their partners during pair work, increasing the accuracy of the work produced. The ambitious student will undoubtedly encourage the other student’s motivation and self-confidence..

Of course, there is always the danger that the stronger students and/or the dominant personalities may “take over” the weaker ones. If you see this happening, try switching partners, but keep in mind you want to maintain the same support dynamic in pairs.I like the horseshoe shape for working with students- it gives me a chance to connect with each student individually without losing contact with the class as a whole. 

This is an example of managing an ESL classroom in Italy. Where do you teach the English language and how do you manage the different types of students and abilities in your classroom? What’s your favorite seating “algorithm”?




+2 # Jean67 2010-08-26 08:10
I have many different classes and students of mixed abilities. I don't know that this would work with the younger ESL students, but I'll give it a go with the middle and superiors.
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