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CLT & Classroom

observation and reflection

Analysis of classroom observation


There are several challenges within classroom contexts. In this sense, many factors
influence them: Classroom environment, number of students, among others. Similarly, there
are specific challenges for English teaching (either EFL or ESL). Thus, many approaches
and techniques have been proposed in order to deal with these challenges and to provide a
proper learning environment. Accordingly, a class from first grade is going to be analyzed
from current perspectives of teaching and specifically classroom management.
The particular event that is worth analyzing involves the way a teacher gives instructions
for a books activity and how it develops. This teacher introduces an activity showing it and
asking a few students the meaning of the words displayed there. She gives cues with
examples and gestures, and the students participate translating these words into Spanish.
After this, the teacher explains what they have to do and demonstrates it by doing it (see
330-340 of transcription). Finally, she asks them what they have to do (see 355). Few
students ask her to repeat the instructions. The rest of the class copies what is in the
whiteboard (answers given by the teacher). When checking the assignments I find a boy
whose answer was incorrect. He copied the answers, but he did not draw something big
as requested. Since the teacher drew a cat, he drew it too, but a small one. When I explain
to him what the purpose of the activity really is, he says () yo pens que haba que
dibujar un gato (see 379-385).
The situation described is somehow a success and a problem. From one perspective,
students can participate answering questions and doing activities, which is a success.
However, it is not evident that they understand what they are doing. They simply repeat
what the teacher does. In this sense, this class practice would be defined as mechanical
since it is a controlled practice activity which students can successfully carry out without
necessarily understanding the language (Richards, 2006, p. 16). Moreover, only a minor
part of students actually participate. As a consequence of this, it is not likely to know if the
students understand what the purpose of the lesson is, or even if they are acquiring the

language. Regarding this, the nature of this problematic comes from the teacher practices.
From a CLT perspective, teachers have to assume the role of facilitator and monitor
(Richards, 2006, p.5). However, in this case the teacher instead of facilitating tools for
learning, is giving answers for the class development. Likewise, if the teacher assumes the
responsibility of monitoring, she should be able to recognize when students understand the
lessons goals. Choosing the most proficient students and giving answers makes the
teachers and students tasks very easy. Thus, the former action can be represented by what
is titled flying with the fastest, which is selecting the students who answer questions with
ease. This can lead to a wrong impression of difficulty or understanding of the tasks
(Scrivener, 2011, p. 77). Consequently, there is no possibility for the teacher to notice if
everybody understands and learns. Hence, since no complications are presented, it seems
that neither the teacher nor the students recognize this situation as a problem.
Now, as for the teachers instructions, she usually follows a structure: She gathers the
students attention by clapping her hands not in the activity analyzed, but in different
ones-, explains and demonstrates how to do the activity, and checks students understanding
by asking them what they have to do. In this sense various strategies for classroom
management mentioned by Scrivener (2011) are present. Now, the way these instructions
are given include other decisions mentioned above (providing answers and checking
comprehension only with certain students). These decisions are detrimental to the class
goal, which is acquiring a foreign language, because they do not ensure understanding. In
addition to this, the nature of the activity itself is not appropriate for children, because it
focuses on vocabulary rather than meaning. Although the meaning of the words are given,
they are not placed in a meaningful context, therefore they do not make sense to students.
This is why students do not understand. In relation to this, the teachers beliefs fit the
traditional approaches as she resorts to drilling and conventional teaching practices.
Some classroom management techniques that could improve this situation would be
demonstrating effectively the activitys procedures, instead of providing the answers.
Similarly, the students understanding of the syllabus would increase if they all have the
opportunity to participate, which is something the teacher can encourage.

Furthermore, as the teacher and students are not aware of this problematic, it is noticeable
that there are several unperceived situations occurring in the classroom. For that reason, my
further knowledge would be that, regardless a class develops easily, it does not mean
learning is achieved. Teachers need to make sure this happens. Thus, I will incorporate this
awareness in my future practices. In this sense, I will try to engage most of my learners in
classroom participation and I will examine carefully that everybody understands what I
intend to teach. Besides, I will check my planning beforehand and place myself in front of
varied problematic circumstances and evaluate possible ways to approach them.
Alternatively to how the class developed, I would give more opportunities for students to
participate and ask questions, and I would present the vocabulary meaningfully. It would be
useful to use materials that they can actually touch and see to represent these words, so
their understanding is broader and meaningful (because they can experience it). Cameron
reflects about this stating that realising that children are active sense-makers, but that
their sense is limited by their experience, is a key to understanding how they respond to
asks (2001, p.4). That is to say, experiencing would have been more appropriate for these
students considering they are young learners.
In brief, from the class observed I can say that even though the class practices present an
appropriate structure, there can be always problematic situations interfering the learning
processes. Therefore, it is important to try to prevent them or change these practices
afterwards. However, in order to do that, the situations must be perceived. There has to be
awareness of this, as well as of the teaching techniques and the decisions taken inside the
Word count: 1050.
This work has been proofread by Mara Jos Elizondo (majose.elizondo@gmail.com) on
November 5th, 2015.

Cameron, L. (2001) Teaching Languages to Young Learners. Cambridge University Press.

Richards, J. (2006) Communicative Language Teaching Today. New York: Cambridge
University Press.
Scrivener, J. (2011) Learning teaching: the essential guide to English language
teaching. Macmillan.