That’s the call most students will make when they need our help, a quick reminder that we are not just there to instruct, but also to mentor and educate. Here are a few ideas you can use when you find yourself teaching and you hear this call. These are some ideas and suggestions that have been tried and worked well in the classroom. The names are not the actual names of the techniques, they are more like pneumonic devices to help you remember the technique if you choose to apply when you start your ESL career. A section of pros and cons has also been included for each technique.
This is a situation in which the teacher will go to the student’s desk one by one, until they have all been helped. Sometimes, if many students need help, then the teacher can call for everyone to stop, give instructions again and then monitor just as a lifeguard would tell everyone to get out of the water if there is a major threat and then let them go back when it’s safe.
Pros: The students receive individualized attention from the teacher.
Cons: Students can get impatient while waiting for the teacher and might start talking to others in L1 (their mother tongue) or even copying.
As you walk around the classroom monitoring their work and making sure they are completing the task, zoom in, try to catch an exercise they have skipped or read their face/body language, if they need your help, you’ll know instantly. Offer your help in an inconspicuous manner. For instance, you see that little John is scratching his head and he is staring at the last exercise (a crossword puzzle) you can approach and ask John questions about the first clue (what color is the car?) John replies: “It’s blue”, show him with your fingers that “Blue” has 4 letters and then show him how they would fit into the squares.
Pros: The student will finish the exercise with more confidence.
Cons: The student might expect you to help every time s/he doesn’t understand something thus affecting academic results. This technique is best used sporadically and/or with strong students who have already formed the habit of asking for help.
This doesn’t call for a race, this calls for students to finish everything they can complete and when they can’t, they should raise their hand and ask the teacher for help. When they come for help, make sure you don’t give them the answers but rather guide them and encourage them to understand what they need to do to complete the task successfully.
Pros: Different students will work at a different pace thus staggering the students you need to help.
Cons: If the students finish around the same time and don’t need any help, you can play a game to check the answers; you can put them in pairs and have them check each other’s work. You can also collect the work and return it at a later time. In order for this to work, you need to create the habit in your students that if you don’t know something, skip it and then you can come back to it later. You can create this habit by including it in your instructions and during your monitoring. Also, stay vigilant and make sure to attend to the student as soon s/he finishes.
After the students have started doing their work and everything seems on track, go to a corner of the room from where you can see all the students and they can all see you, creating a sort of consultation zone. If they need help, they can go to you and they will receive the help they need in the zone.
Pros: This allows students to work quietly and more independently as well as receiving individualized attention.
Cons: Some students, especially teenagers are stubborn to ask for help or they will see standing up and asking for help as a matter of “losing face” which is a big deal in Chinese culture. Usually, young learners prefer this method, as they want to interact more with the teacher.
When you start your ESL career at our school, you will receive a great deal of support training, as you learn, so will your students, so pay it forward and apply some or a combination of these techniques so you can provide the best help and support to your students.