I am an American teaching Chinese high school students EFL in Beijing. I have three classes of about 25 students each that each meet once a week for 40 minutes. They also have English with a Chinese teacher every day. One of my classes has very good English and they are motivated students. The other two classes have students with a wide variety of English levels. Some of the students have very good English and are very confident speaking it to me, while others give me blank stares when I ask them simple questions and are not confident at all in using what little English they know. I have to pull their teeth to get them to talk in English sometimes. I want to help all the students learn something from the class, and my goal is for every student to speak at least a little bit in English every class. However, I feel that if I have them simply speaking in small groups to each other, that a lot of them won't do it. That leaves me with no option but to have them speak one at a time in front of the whole class, and while they would probably eventually do it, I think it is putting too much pressure on some of them.
I've been teaching this class for 8 weeks and still feel that I am getting nowhere with them. If you have any tips for how to get them to talk more, I would greatly appreciate it!