For lessons to be successful, your classroom management is of paramount importance. You may have the best planned lesson ever but if your classroom isn’t set up well and your instructions don’t work then the lesson will fail.
In this post I will talk about giving instructions. For classroom layout and interaction patterns please read part 1.
This is one area that all teachers tend to struggle with at first but they are in fact very simple to master.
Compare the following and then decide what you think is important when giving instructions.
Version 1 – “Ok everyone, I would like you to have a look at exercise 3 on page 22 in your coursebook. If you wouldn’t mind filling in the gaps with the correct verb and then check your answers with your partner. Remember, you have to put the verb into the correct tense. Does everyone understand?” (Students look blank!)
Version 2 – “Look at this sentence (on the board) which verb fits in this gap? That’s right, run but the sentence is about yesterday so what should we write here? That’s right, ran. Turn to page 22 and do exercise 3. (Teacher holds up the coursebook and points to exercise 3 on page 22).”
A few minutes later – “Now, check your answers with your partner”.
Hopefully you have worked out that version 2 is more effective, the students have seen an example of what they should do and should hopefully now be able to do the rest by themselves. In version 1 the teacher has used a lot of unnecessary language and the students are unsure what is required of them.
Golden Rules of Giving Instructions:
- KISS – keep instructions short / simple
- Demonstrate what you want students to do wherever possible
- Instruct on a need to know basis (don’t tell the students what they are going to do later, only tell them what to do now)
- Grade the level of your language
ICQs (Instruction Checking Questions)
You may be encouraged to use ICQs when doing your CELTA course, these can be quite difficult to master and should be used sparingly.
An instruction checking question does exactly what it suggests, it is a question asked to students to check that they have understood the instructions just given:
Instruction – “Write three sentences about your family.”
ICQ – “How many sentences should you write?”
Expected Answer – “Three”
You would be right to ask whether this ICQ is necessary, the students aren’t stupid after all. In this situation, I would probably not ask an ICQ, the instruction follows my golden rules in that it is short and simple. Now consider this example:
Instruction – (There are 10 questions in exercise 5 but there is not enough time for students to do all 10) “Look at exercise 5 and answer questions 1-6, you have 3 minutes”
ICQ – “How many questions should you answer?”
Expected answer – “Six”
In this example the teacher has highlighted the fact that the students should not answer all of the questions, instead just the first six, this is a useful ICQ as it keeps students focused on the task in hand.
Do you have problems delivering effective instructions?