Dear Angony Aunt Lucy,
I already posted this article, but got no meaningful replies.
Someone suggest I speak to you - so below is my issue (doubts in ability after exposure to difficult class) and I am dying for some meaningful feedback.
NB: Apologies for length, I couldn't make the time to shorten it!
The class in question:
15 Students between 19 and 50.
Students' level ungraded; the course has a mixture from absolute beginner (CEF A0?) (never had English in school, school was 30+ years ago) to those who passed their English Tertiary education leaving exam with top grades (CEF B2)
Studying a course to become qualified business people (Eastern Germany, Private training/FE college)
Students are to complete a ca. 1,000 word written project (in English, on some business topic of their choosing) for submission to the regional chamber of commerce
Students are studying a whole course (ca. 300 hours in a year, approx.80 hours is English alongside a full-time job - lessons are weekday evenings and Saturdays
No materials, course book provided (is there anything suitable for a class with such a range of levels?)
Very irregular timetable and attendance - after ca. 40 hours I still don't know all the student's names- most embarrassing
Trinity qualified (1 month course) June '07
Freelance in Germany from Sept '07 - Sept '08 (Technical college)
Full time employee at FE Vocational college since Sept '08
Modern language department of 1 (me)
2nd year of teaching Business English
What happens in class:
Attendance issues (today 5 / 15 students, last lesson only eight)
Frequent departure of students during lesson time (I have mixed feelings about this, sometimes it is best for us all)
Extensive use of German by all
Written exercises typically started by 2/3 of students present, completed by 1/3 if lucky.
Some of the oldest students have yet to write, speak or read anything, even when placed in small groups of 'friendly' peers
Grumblings (though the grapevine) that my teaching style is unsound (emphasis on speaking and listening during the lesson, writing as a production task and reading for homework)
Listlessness, evident low motivation issues
English compulsory part of the course, entirely possible to avoid it in their everyday (and future working) lives if they so wish
I'd like to have my lessons engaging, motivating and well attended, with full participation by all.
I've had my greatest successes with the class in small groups (mix of abilities) to create a text-based business-themed presentation.
My greatest failures are any lesson with talking or listening (4 walked out on my lesson 'role-play on an aeroplane - introduce yourself to the neighbour seated next to you); and although some might think they need it, I cannot bring myself to just issue list after list of vocabulary and test it the following lesson; likewise drilling grammar by rote.
If you've had similar situations in your careers, how did you overcome the issues?
All advice gratefully considered.
P.s. I teach a total of 13 courses, after we've improved this one, I'd like to pick your brains to help me improve the lessons I have to give 6 Mechanical technicians aged between 18 and 55…