Large Classes

managing large classes

Large classes used to make me very nervous

I have developed a few strategies to get me through a class with as many students getting as much as possible. I’m going to share some of my ideas today.
I should probably put a little disclaimer in here. These strategies aren’t foolproof. They don’t work all the time. They don’t work for every class. But with consistent and persistent implementation they are the ones I have had the most success with.


Kids like routines. They find comfort in them. I don’t mean make the teaching methods and approaches routine. That’ll just get boring. But making the other, behavioural aspects routine. I do the register at the start of class. I have the same routine for students getting their books from the cupboard. I have the same routine for large classes with completing certain types of tasks, specifically I will always demo a task, after explaining it. I always get the students attention in the same way (I clap and however many times I clap, the students copy me. For example, I clap three times, the students clap 3 times).


I’ve talked about gamification in the classroom in another post but it does work very well in large classes. Assigning team captains adds a hierarchical element to the class. This means instructions can be given to less students, you just need to ensure they understand and they can then help you manage a task. Team captains can be used to manage weaker or less motivated students in class. Promoting weaker or less motivated students to team captain, I have noticed an improvement in some of their behaviour (Bewarned: Some students don’t respond to this tactic).

Understanding Rules

In your first class you need to set down some ground rules. All the students must understand these rules. With older students you can elicit the rules from them, this will give them a sense of responsibility to class actions later on.
The students must also understand that breaking these rules will result in consequences. Again, with older students, you can get them to decide on the consequences. Either way, students must understand that breaking rules will result in consequences. It’s also really important that this doesn’t remain an idle threat. So you need to make sure that the consequences are realistic, fair and deliverable.
You must be consistant with enforcing these rules. All students must be treated the same. All rules apply to all students and all consequences must be delivered.
I hope that you can take something away from this and that it will help you to teach large classes. Continue the discussion on our Facebook page

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Dan has been teaching English overseas for more than six years. He specialises in teaching young learners and has experience in teaching in the UK, South Korea and Thailand.