Topic 22A – Variables to consider in organizing class English: Grouping students, distribution of time and space, selection of methodologies, teacher’s role, etc.

Topic 22A – Variables to consider in organizing class English: Grouping students, distribution of time and space, selection of methodologies, teacher’s role, etc.

Variables to be taken into consideration in the organization of the foreign language classroom. Pupils grouping, space and time management, methodology selection, teachers’ role. . .

1.- General Factors

1.1.- Age

Generally speaking, it is said that children learn more quickly than adults but this is not so clear. Children learn more quickly because of their innate abilities of acquisition in primary levels. Children, because of their motivation to become a communicator, develop a better pronunciation than adults, but adults will acquire primary levels more rapidly because of their greater cognitive abilities and strategies.

1.2.- Sex

It has been found that girls and boys use different strategies when they are learning a language. Girls tends to be mere communicative than boys.

1.3.- Motivation and attitudes.

Gardner and Lamberer stabled two main kinds of motivation: -Integrative: The learner has a genuine interest in the second language community -Instrumental: His interest is in how the second language can be useful towards furthering others goals. It is clear that this is not enough to be highly motivated, It must be acompained by others factors such as useful strategies.

1.4.- Aptitude and intelligence

Learning a second language in a classroom involves two sets of intellectual abilities: – A general academic or reasoning ability called intelligence.

– Specifics cognitive qualities needed for second language acquisition called aptitude.

There are several problems to stablish the difference of influence of both in the second language acquisition.

1.5.- Personality

Krashen argues that extroverted learners will find easier to make contact with other users of the second language and therefore will obtain more input.

Also Characteristics such as extroversion assertiveness and adventuresomeness are predictable to be positive for learning Social Skills. Allow the students to be related to the world and culture of the country.

Other factors we have to consider are inhibition and axiety.

A teacher who reduces both in the whole learning process will make students increase confidence when producing a language.

1.6.- Learning Styles

According to Ausubel, learning styles are define as “self-consistent and enduring individual differences in cognitive organization and functioning”.

It can be inductive or deductive; dependent or independent;  holistic or analytic; …

These cognitive learning stiles will be developed in the chapter of learning strategies.

Age, sex, motivation, aptitude, intelligence, personality and learning style stablish individual differences in the way or second language acquisition. So we should consider them to stablish the most effective way to teach them

2.-“The good language learner” (Ellis) and the unsuccessful learner

a)Ellis characteristics of a good language learner

*Be able to respond to the group dynamics of the learning situations

*Seek out all opportunities to use the target language

*make maximum use of the opportunities to practice the second language

*Supplement the learning that derive from the direct contact with speakers of the second language

*Be an adolescent or an adult rather a young child

*Possess sufficient analytic skills to perceive categorize and store the linguistic features of the second language and also to monitor errors

*Possess a strong reason for learning the second language and also develop a strong task motivation

*Be prepared to experiment by taking risk *Be capable of adapting to different learning conditions

b) Characteristics of an unsuccessful language learner

*tendency toward a history of faliture

*Lack of confidence

*No risk taking

*Low self-steam

*Negative attributions

*Poor study habits and learning strategies

*Full of surprises

3.-Learner involvement: Strategies

For a successful learner-centred-comunicative methodology, the teacher must be no more the “controller” or the “conductor”. S/he must help the learner to be self-autonomous and aware with the global learning.

According to Hutchinson these are the characteristics that should be enhanced with the classroom:

3.1.- Positive attitudes

To develop affectivity in the language, the learner and the teacher have to work together.

The teacher role is to turn into a productive ingredient in the learning pot. He is going to decide how to conduct the process, materials, . . . He also should teach attitudes, strategies, abilities, skills and other concepts now included in the syllabus design. Positive attitudes are those concerned with culture awareness.

3.2.- Awareness raising

Teacher must apply global contents.

S/he must provide the learner the strategies to become responsible.

The strategies included here are those affective ones.

3.3.-Skill development

The skills are directed toward cognitive and metacognitive strategies.

Metacognive strategy is a learning strategy that involves thinking about our knowledge of the learning process.

Cognitive strategy is a strategy that involves mental manipulation or transformation of materials or tasks and is intended to enhance comprehension, acquisition or retention.

Both are concerned with the “learning to learn”.

3.4.- Basic tools for learning: Techniques

*Sound acquisition

-repeating aloud

-Listening carefully and talking aloud


-Following rules

-Inferring grammar rules

-Comparing L1 and L2

-Memorizing structures and using them


-Making up charts

-Learning words in context

-Learning words that are associated

-Using new words in phrases

-Using a dictionary

*Listening comprehension

-Listening to the radio

-Exposing oneself to different accents and registers

*Learning to talk

– Not being afraid to make mistakes

– Making contact with native speakers

– Asking for correction

*Learning to write

-Having penpals

-Writing frequently

-Frecuent reading of what you expect to write

*Learning to read

-Reading something everyday

-Reading things that are familiar

-Reading texts at the beginners level

-looking for meaning from the context

3.5.-Learner syllabus design (loopback)

The contents that a task based syllabus, like the Spanish

reform one, Should be divided into:

a)Contents which develop the oral communicatively abilities

b)Contents which develop the written communicatively abilities

c)Sociocultural contents

These contents must include the strategies above mentioned.

These strategies will achieve the specific and the general aims.

A progresive evaluation will be considered during the academic year. And one of the most important things included in the syllabus is the selection of a methodology.

In summary, we are clamming a task based approach focused in the process where evaluation and methodology are included in the learning contents.

4.-Class management. Pupils grouping
















*Anyone can

hear what


being said

*We get a




*We can


the lass at


fast pace

*Is not



*Increases the pupils practice

*Motivation to learn with others

*Important for our youngest pupils

*Increases the amount of pupils talking time

*Gives them opportunities to use the language to communicate

*They learn and teach

exhibiting a degree of self-reliance which

is absent from teaching controlled


*more dynamic

*Need a communication

more important

*more relax than

pair work

*Child relax from

outside pressure

*Child internalize what s/he is learning

*Permit our pupils

select between

diferent activities














does not


very much

*lack of


*lack of


for a



*Noise problems

*How to group our pupils

*Some pupils do not like to work in pairs

*To motivate them

we have to tell them what the reason for the activity is

*Use of Spanish

*Use of Spanish



*Motivated clearly

defined goals are

the solution

*Selection of group members











*Provides assistance

*Checks the task

is carried out satisfactorily









Who are not Side by side perform a task. The rest listen them


The class is divided into pairs and working at the same



Form new ones during the activity


Our two pupils have to help each other to

complete the activities


Usually good for



They could work different materials at

The same time

* Biggest size for a group is half class and only for competitive activities.

*Smallest group

(6 more or less)

*Flexible groups

As the activity progress the group split up and reform

*fixed groups for

all the year you can have group leaders

who make of group

organizer and



5.-Space and time management

The teacher should consider this options:

5.1.-The physical enviroment


-Voice proyection


5.2.-Rapport between teacher and student

-physical position

-eye contact

-Using students names

-Personal involvement/enjoyment




5.3.-Students’ individual sense of belonging to a group

-teacher involving all equality

-Expressing their own personalities

-Constitution of groups in the class

5.4.-Classroom organization and lay out

-In most cases we do not have total freedom to organize the classroom. Brewster underlines Six points to consider:

1.- A grid plan made to scale is useful if we have a large class squeezed into a small area

2.- We must think about sitting our pupils in rows or groups

3.- Pupils who is closed to the teacher Concentrate more and work harder

4.- A small classroom library colour coded acording to difficulty

5.- Areas where our pupils can display their work

6.- Corners

5.4.1.- Classroom display

We must encourage them to display their work when setting a display we must keep several points in mind:

1.-try to keep the work at our pupils eye level

2.-We may include related words pictures or a tape which may tell a story which is described visually in a display

3.-As they must be eye catching, the titles and lettering should be large and attractive

4.- We must ensure that the pupils’ names are on their workand above all, that all our pupils have something on display

5.5.-Time management The differents groups can go at a different speed and what we have planed could be good for one but not for the others. We have to plot realistic timings for the complection of certain activities. We may be left with time to spare at the end of our lesson; In these cases we need to have some activities reserved.

6.-Selecting a methodology

Our curriculum established that the main aim of teaching a foreign language in primary education is to enable our pupils to reach communicative competence and its main subcomponents:

Grammar competence: Domain of grammar and lexical capabilities

Discourse competence: written or speaking discourses with coherence and cohesion.

Socio-linguistic competence: Understand the social context in which the conversation takes place

Socio-cultural competence: Knowledge of cultural aspects of the target language speaking countries

6.1.- Communication in the classroom

We can stablish a continuum where communicative and non communicative activities are the extremes. In the classroom we divide the work into 3 major activities depending on the point of the continuum we are placed:




6.2.- Integrated Skills

Our activities will sometimes have to concentrate on one single skill to reach our aims but we have to use that to practicing others.

6.4.- Assessment

Continuous assessment is now the more wide spread method of assessment in our schools. This assessment have to show our pupils level of attainment, the effectiveness and efficiency of our methods and it start with an initial diagnosis.

7.-A common working environment: Teachers’ role

7.1.- Teaching style

Teaching style is a complex amalgam of beliefs, attitudes, strategies, techniques, personality and control which lies at the heart of the interpersonal relationship between teacher and

7.2.- Motivation

A primary function of the teacher management roe is to motivate the learners who are demotivated. There are several ways:

-Adopting a positive attitude towards the learner.

-Giving pupils meaningful relevant and interesting task to do.

-Maintaining discipline to be extent that a reasonable working atmosphere is stablish

-Being motivated and interested themselves

-Involving the learner more actively in the classroom process and activities that demand inter-student communication and cooperative efforts

-Introducing learners to the concepts of self apprassial and self-evaluation

-Giving positive feedback or written assignments

-Encouraging pride in achievement by allowing learners to display their work on the classroom.

7.3.- Main types of teachers

We are going to analyze the six main roles that Hammer distinguishes:

CONTROLLER. We are totally in charge of the class. It is use in presentation stage. It is only adequate during the reproducction stage, being wholly inappropriate at the production stage.

ASSESOR. During the presentation stage we also correct our pupils’ error and mistakes but without making our pupils ashamed of their errors.

Organizing feedback is a major part of assessing our pupils performance. The teacher waits until an activity or task has been completed and he tells pupils how they did.

ORGANIZER. is to tell our pupils what is our topic and what re the tasks. We must also get the activity going, solving initial problems and finally organize feedback.

Prompter. We sometimes need to help our students where there is a silence or our pupils are confused. We should help only when it is necessary

PARTICIPANT. In simulations is interesting to participate with our pupils.

RESOURCE.In communicative activity it’s important to keep our roles as assessors and to be a kind of resource center.

7.4.- Comunication patterns: “formal” or “informal”?

If we allow greater freedom of participation from the learner, we will develop a less formal communication pattern. The learners will be more ready to share meanings and values. This will enrich the contents of learning.

7.5.-Attitude towards errors in the learning process.

The mistakes are caused by an overgeneralization of the second language or by the interference of the mother tongue. As educators, our porpoise is to encourage risk-takers.

The mistakes takes part in the learning process and they assure the stage of the students’ acknoledgement. Only if obstruct the comunication are to be corrected.