For general discussion between ESL teachers.

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Unread post by EveInMadrid » Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:00 pm

Hi guys,

This is my first time posting on one of these type of forums and I'm hoping for some advice. I've been teaching in Madrid now for over 4 years in companies mainly and I'm very lucky to say that I've got on and liked all of my students over the 4 years - until I started a new class at the beginning of the month.

Basically I have one student in the class who's rude to me. If I ask him to give some input or answer a question, for example, he'll refuse or give monosyllabic answers with his arms crossed looking bored and then proceed to sit in the class looking completely disinterested while I teach. It's incredibly off-putting. The lack of contribution I can handle but the rudeness, I can't. I try my best to make the classes as enjoyable as possible and I get the impression the rest of the students like the classes and I've always had very good feedback from students over the years, so I'm really stumped with this guy.

Last week, I translated a word into Spanish (I have a decent level of the language but make mistakes like most learners) and he imitated my pronunciation of the word while laughing and talking in the L1. I lost the plot and asked him how he'd like it if I came into class and laughed at his pronunciation of English and that I'm a learner of the language just like him. I tried to keep my cool but I think I went very close to crossing the line. The episode left me very flustered for the rest of the class as I don't expect confrontation in a class of adults in a company. I feel like he's trying to test me.

From the very first day, he had an attitude, so I'm guessing it's just the way he is but I find it very hard to handle and really don't want the year to go this way. I'm also anxious that he'll complain and I'll lose this class (as most of you know, in these kinds of classes, it's about keeping the students happy) and I really don't want it to come to that as I have this class for 3 hours a week.

The thing is, he might spontaneously change his attitude all of a sudden and start talking and contributing but the rest of the time could be spent daydreaming with his arms crossed not bothering with anything and he makes the class very uncomfortable for me.

I know I'm a good teacher but this man (late 30s/early 40s) is either trying to undermine me, hates English and resents having to learn it, hates me and my classes or he's just a bit of a you-know-what. Any advice from anyone, please?

Thanks a million!


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Re: Dealing

Unread post by Susan » Wed Oct 23, 2013 4:17 pm

Just one thing i'd say after a quick reading of this: if the guy had an attitude problem on day one, it probably isn't against you. Is there some issue with the others in the class? he maybe thinks he's been placed in the wrong level. I know it's not easy to do: but try not to take it personally.

Take a look at Lucy Pollard's Guide to Teaching English

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Hi there

Unread post by Anthony » Mon Nov 04, 2013 5:06 pm

I do really know the troubles you’ve been going through the same happened to me a few years ago when I started teaching at an Elementary school. There was a blue-eyed student that made me almost lose my spontaneity, made me cross over all methodological guidelines I’d learned during that time. Now I realize that, that was just the cornerstone for becoming a teacher. This guy was so different from the ones I had studied during the period I was at college, I had never seen someone like him. Every time I arrived at school he was there laughing at me on everything, the way I used to wear, my hear-cut, and the like. Inside the classroom, he was so different from the rest. Even there was a day when he wanted to slap my face, I had to count every start that’s in the sky. I talked to an old teacher, who unfortunately passed away, she guided me about the things I needed to do, and the strategies that needed to be followed with him. She told me that sometimes this kind of personality (off-putting) comes in handy with troubles back at home. You better need to win his trust, instead of having him as a troublemaker in your class, make him be a part of it, give him some responsibility inside the classroom (this really worked to me), there are some students who wouldn’t like the idea though. You’re the one who is in charge of everything. You could try to make him realize the importance of learning English, What would he need it for? Give it a shoot and try with differentiated activities and exercises or even better games. Games are not just a break from routines-activities, they must also contribute to the language proficiency by getting or drawing the students’ whole attention to them, and all these according to their kind of characteristics. The kind of assessments assigned to that student according to a lower achiever student. Do not put him apart, nor make him withdraw or get far from the rest. All these mentioned is for you for not being catch off guard when something sadly occur that will make you regret for not putting more emphasis on him. What's left is on behalf of you.
An advice try to look closer to the troubles that make him look so different from the rest, remember "there’s no smoke without fire".
Anthony, If you need to ask me something else this is my email I can help you. this is my sister’s but don’t be afraid of asking.

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