Multi-level class issues

Teaching ESL to adults

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Multi-level class issues

Unread postby FairyTowers » 05 Aug 2012, 18:51

I have a low-beginner to high-intermediate English class with elderly students. The low-beginner student cannot read or write in her native tongue, and the high-intermediate can carry on a basic conversation with me. I don't mind doing extra planning/work to make multi-level lessons, but I need to address some other problems first.

My most troubling problems:

1) No matter what I do--guided conversation activities, varying complexity of questions asked, group work--the students would rather ask each other in their native tongue for answers and explanations, instead of trying to ask me in English, or trying to ask each other in English. (They will even leave their groups just to ask another student for an answer.) I have already told them they won't learn very much if they don't try to use English. I've told them it's ok to make mistakes, because I'm willing to help. I'm out of ideas.

2) One of my male students makes some of my female students, and me, very uncomfortable. He has tried to give me a "surprise" present, but I make excuses to not be alone with him. He has tried to flirt with me several times after class when all the other students are gone. He has even asked if he could call me to have a dinner date. I acted like I thought he wanted to have lunch after class with the rest of his classmates and me in the community center's cafe. The female students will not tell me why he makes them uncomfortable. He is married, has grandchildren, and his wife is also a student in my class. I have no idea how to address this problem, other than to tell him privately he needs to stop making advances at me, and hope he does stop. However, based on his classroom behavior--very pushy, talks over others, frequently disrupts class to tell stories and tells me it will only take a few seconds when I ask him to tell the story later--he probably won't.

I would especially like advice about problem number two. I do not want to quit teaching the class, but if he does not stop his inappropriate behavior I would have to get him removed from the class or quit teaching. Removing him from the class would require an explanation to his wife, and quitting without explanation would make me look unprofessional. The students are all part of a very tight-knit community, and gossip would spread quickly.

Thanks for any advice.
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Re: Multi-level class issues

Unread postby Josef » 05 Aug 2012, 20:00

Can you at least indicate what country (or even just region) you are in? This might have a bearing on both issues.
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Re: Multi-level class issues

Unread postby FairyTowers » 05 Aug 2012, 23:44

The U.S. (I know this is a TEFL board, but I figured these sorts of problems happen everywhere. And the ESL site I wanted to post at wouldn't accept new registrations.)
From what I know about the male student mentioned in 2), I would think he has lived in the U.S. long enough to know what is and is not considered acceptable behavior in U.S. culture. He also should be in a higher class level, but he stays in mine because of his wife, I guess. That wasn't a problem until he was absent recently, and I realized how much more smoothly the class went.
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Re: Multi-level class issues

Unread postby Susan » 06 Aug 2012, 18:19

Hi Fairy Towers,

It sounds horrible having a student making unwanted advances.

I think it's easiest if you are clear with him; can you just say "I don't have dinner alone with students" or "I'm not allowed to go to dinner with students, school rules don't allow it". This will send a clear signal and hopefully, he'll respect you more. Don't say this in front of the others; allow him to keep face, otherwise it could turn very nasty!

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