How come my students always do the wrong thing?

Help, tips and advice in teaching English

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How come my students always do the wrong thing?

Unread postby Fiona » 03 Aug 2004, 08:56

Dear Auntie Lucy,

I'm having problems with my students and am getting really frustrated. Whenever I tell them what to do in class, they just don't get it and spend time doing the wrong thing.

What can I do?

Thanks, Fiona

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Help - my students always do the wrong thing!

Unread postby Lucy » 03 Aug 2004, 11:20

Dear Fiona,

If students aren’t doing what you ask them to do, it’s possible you’re not being very clear with your instructions. To check if this is the case, you could ask a colleague to come in and observe one of your lessons. If this is not possible or if you feel uncomfortable about observations, you could record one of your lessons and analyse how you give instructions. It’s best not to record everything as that can take a long time to go through. You could just record the parts where you are explaining to students what to do.

If you find that this is the case, here’s how to improve your instructions.

When planning the lesson, think about what you want the students to do. Be very clear about this. Then, write out your instructions in very clear and simple language and use this in class. It will soon become second nature to you. Think about which instructions you are going to give at what point of the lesson. Don’t give out instructions too far in advance.

In class, make sure you get everybody’s attention before you start explaining what to do. After you’ve given the instructions check that they have understood. It’s not enough to say “Do you understand?” The students who have understood will reply and those who haven’t may be too embarrassed to say they don’t know what to do.

Instead ask the students to explain back to you what they need to do. If they all speak the same language and you understand it, it’s fine to do it in their language. It’s quicker too. Alternatively, you could ask some students to demonstrate what is needed. If you see that things aren’t going as they should, stop the students immediately and re-explain.

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