Thursday, June 5, 2014

Teachers can make classroom immersion easy and fun

With group language classes at the beginning level, classroom management is everything. Here are these students - whatever age - and they are asked to make funny noises and listen to a teacher say things that sound like nonsense. Laughter, teasing, embarrassment, or just fear of looking and sounding stupid, can lead to student behavior that distracts the other students who are trying to pay attention and learn something.

Next, you, the teacher, are in disciplinarian mode, instead of fun, engaging dialogue and interactive mode. Now no one wants to talk, and the quiet classroom is under control but the students aren't learning to speak and understand the language.

What happens next? Often, teachers feel they must switch to English (or the students' first language) to explain  or translate. The immersion concept goes out the window, at least for now.

So how do we get to immersion with beginning students, especially when a group of students vary widely in their level of interest in language learning?