Setting Up Your ESL Classroom and Organizing Your Students
I always find that the key to having a successful lesson is planning properly and that includes setting up your classroom properly too. There are many ways that you can set up your classroom. My personal preference is to have the students chairs at the edge of the classroom, in a horseshoe pattern, giving you lot's of room in the middle when playing ESL games and activities.
For most of the activities you will need to organize teams. I always organize my students so that they are standing in lines. One good tip: If you have square tiled flooring, you can get the students to stand on them and if they move off the square their team loses a point. This helps to stop the students from moving around and it will also make your lessons more fun. If you do not have squares on the floor, then you may want to consider using the student books placed on the floor. When you want the students to change their position in the line, you can call out "change" and then the students should change their position. This could be timed to make it a bit more exciting. Useful tip: Try shouting "Chicken" or "Chalk". If the students move then you can take points away from their team. This will also create some laughs. Also, if the students don't get to their allocated square before you finish the countdown, they have point(s) deducted.
It is generally recognized, that the use of regular instructional language i.e. commands, evokes class control. in my experience, this has proved to be true and I always spend a couple of minutes at the start of each lesson giving various commands. Examples are:
Classroom Instructions (TPR)
point to the....
look at the....
Open/close your book
open your bag
Pick up your pencil
put down your pencil
get your notebook out
Stand in a line
Stand in 2/3 lines
stand in a circle
Stand in pairs
boys in one circle and girls in one circle
one line: boy, girl, boy, girl....
When giving these commands and for the students to carry them out speed is of optimum importance. It is therefore expedient for the teacher to count 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, thus encouraging the individual to complete each action within this given time limit. This adds to the fun factor.
To encourage integration, alternate seating arrangements with a boy, girl, boy, girl mix.