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Nowadays, English has become one of the most popular language in the world. As an experienced English teacher, you’ll not only need to teach your students well but you will also need to face some teaching problems. A good ESL teacher must be able to recognize these problems, and try hard to find solutions as soon as possible. The aim of this article is to give you a list of common problems while teaching English in Vietnam and how to solve them professionally.
1. In class, students usually speak Vietnamese more than English
Many foreign English teachers are facing this big problem in their class, especially in a class of young learners. That’s why most of the English centers or public schools have Vietnamese assistants to assist you. If you want your students to stay focussed in class and do not speak Vietnamese, you should try to ask them some simple questions such as “Do you have any questions?” “What do you think about today’s topic?”. Another method is to create funny mini games and making sure that every single student in your class gives you an answer in English. Remember to not give your students too much free time, they will talk in Vietnamese and will be completely oblivious to what is going on in class.
2. Students do not do their homework
In extra English classes at private centers, some of the students do not do their homework or any exercises outside of the classroom. Young students will say they have to complete their school’s homework first and they do not have enough time to do English tasks at home. Adults learners are usually busy with their business or work so they also do not have free time for their homework.
The best solution for young students is to give some small gifts (bonus marks, candy, cookies, stickers etc) to encourage them to do their homework. If they still not obey, just simply notify the parents that the student is not completing the tasks to satisfaction. As for adults, give them options. For example: they have to finish a mini test 2 times a week in order to review how much they remembered from last lesson. They do not need to do exercises everyday but make sure they can complete the task with a high-score.
3. Students are bored, inattentive, or unmotivated
These are the most returning problems in class. Students do not want to stay focussed and they seem to be forced to go to class.
Fortunately, with proper planning this problem can be solved. Teachers should choose a interesting theme for the lesson; one that the students can relate to and one you know they will enjoy. This will automatically give them some motivation and will interest them. Get to know your pupils and identify their interests and needs, then design your lessonplan plan accordingly. Sometimes you need to prepare a new game and special gifts for the winners. Let students formulate questions, prepare pictures or other instructional materials to illustrate clearly.
Besides, you should try to be positive even when your students make mistakes in class and do not forget to encourage them with a smile. When students can’t answer the question, give the correct answer and ask them to repeat.
4.Writing skills of students
Almost all students are able to hear and understand spoken English but confuse sentence structures and grammar when they write. Grammar mistakes when writing is another problem that teachers have to face while teaching English as a foreign language. It can be difficult for students to write in a second language, as their native language may have different rules for tenses and for sentence structures
The solution for this problem is to ask your students to prepare the structure at home in order to express their own ideas verbally. Teachers need to speak slowly and clearly word by word. Make sure your students often practice writing, learn new vocabulary, new grammar and practise sentence structures in class or at home. Students must be given enough time to write down any sentence and paragraph. You should pay attention to the major errors such as those in grammar, word’s order and punctuation in the notebook of your students.
5. Strong students in class
No matter how well classes are sorted, there will still be differences in how much students know and how quickly they can learn English in class. Strong students usually dominate and take all of the attention from their teachers. That’s unfair if other students with slower understanding don’t have a chance to stand out and speak up their opinion. Make sure that weaker students shouldn’t be forgotten in classroom during discussions and activities. Teachers should pay attention to students in the corner of the classroom and try to ask them questions regularly.
6.Most students are afraid to speak English in class.
This problem occurs when teachers ask their students to tell what they are thinking, such as their feelings, their point of view etc.. Vietnamese students are afraid to make mistakes while speaking. This is one of the worst habits caused by Vietnamese teachers, they will give bad marks if their students do not have the right answers. As a great English teacher, you should encourage your students (even if they make many mistakes), by showing the right answers and giving them a chance to answer again. Remember to patiently help and support your students untill the end of the lesson.
7. Overcrowded classrooms
Most of the public schools in Vietnam have to face the biggest issue of all: overcrowded classrooms. In an ideal world, class sizes would be capped at 15 to 20 students. Unfortunately, many classrooms now regularly exceed 30 students and it is not uncommon to have more than 40 students in a single class. Teaching in an overcrowded classroom can be frustrating, overwhelming and stressful. Teachers do not have enough time to take care of every single student. Too many students in one classroom will provide more opportunities for personality conflicts, tensions, and disruptive behavior. It’s difficult for teachers to manage their classroom, especially new teachers with a lack of experience. Creating energetic and engaging lessons and taking advantage of ability grouping are the best solutions for this problem. Furthermore, you will need a class-moniter as a supervisor to help you to control every member of the class.