Words Worth Blog

Classroom Dynamics in an English as a Second Language Class

Discussions and debates, tried and tested forms of interaction in a classroom scenario have been always popular with teachers and students alike. The tempo of the class can rise and fall in excitement when a topic is taken up for discussion or debated upon. Participants enjoy pitching in their ideas and opinions and use group discussions and debates as excellent opportunities to present their perspective on a given issue.

With a lot of meaningful interaction in a particular language happening during such occasions, discussions-whether be in groups or in pairs, and debates become great platforms for enhancing communication skills in the language. Teachers, especially of an English as a second language (ESL) class, can plan discussions or debates on consciously formulated topics to ensure the use and practice of intended language structures or vocabulary, during such occasions. The natural settings, upbeat emotions and the use of relevant topics ensure the elicitation of the best from the students in the form of active participation.

This active participation by the students can be even further enhanced by the teacher. This can be done by the teacher by exploiting her understanding of classroom dynamics of the given group of students. Studies have shown that, the importance of classroom dynamics in any classroom scenario cannot be undermined, more so in an ESL class. This assertion stems from the understanding that, the effectiveness of an ESL class is largely dependent on the degree of interaction that takes place in such a class. The interactions that take place in a classroom scenario are further dependent upon the equation that the students share with each other, or with their teacher. Their personal background, home environment, socio-economic status and even their ethnicity influences their interactions in the class. Learning styles, deference towards others, inhibitions or aggressiveness can be defining factors in the degree of interactions done in class. In simpler words, these determining factors decide how much the students talk in class, that is, if they do so at all. The teacher through her sensitivity to the dynamics prevailing in her class can manipulate these factors to her benefit.

For an ESL teacher, the understanding of the classroom dynamics of her batch of students is thus of utmost importance. Time spent on and the activities done by them to know the students better prove to be good investments during the course duration. The enhancement of language skills-impacted largely by the volume of language use through discussions and debates, in a variety of scenarios and among a range of different people, will surely benefit from the efficiency with which the teacher is able to exploit the diversity prevailing in the class. When the teacher is able to ensure harmony in relationships and thus generate an environment congenial for learning, participation increases, which has a definitive and positive impact on language learning.