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Topic 1: Classroom Arrangement

Why is the arrangement of desks and chairs important in the ESL/EFL classroom?
Are there learning activities for which the traditional classroom seating arrangement is
the most appropriate?

Good classes may have different arrangement of desks and chairs for the achievement of best
results of each class. The arrangement of desks and chairs is important because when its well-
planned it can help to take advantage of the classroom’s space, specially in those classrooms
that are not proportional to the number of students. The classroom arrangement may also
collaborate in activities that require students’ mobility and interaction and also in the opposite
case, when students need to have less interaction and avoid distraction, as in the case of
quizzes and exams. In other cases, furniture arrangement also may be important for other
reasons like room acoustic or relaxed atmosphere.

The traditional classroom seating arrangement is more appropriate for activities where students
are working each one in their personal textbooks. In this way they may feel more confident
working individually. This arrangement also allows to all the students to visualize a blackboard
or standing teacher and vice-versa in the last case.

Choose two of the arrangements as shown in section 2.2 Explain the types of learning
activities for which they would be most appropriate. Compare and contrast.

Students sittings in small groups

This arrangement may work for group activities such as games, conversation, topic discussions,
team competitions, and others. It is more appropriated for communication of participants of
the groups, for sharing opinions, dividing roles and collaborating for a common goal. It may
help for big groups where the teacher can’t give enough attention and interact with all
students, allowing the member of the small groups to interact and meet the needs of
interaction with the teacher.

It is not appropriated for students working individually neither for teacher centered activities.
It can collaborate in some students’ negative behavior. Also, in this arrangement the teacher is
not able to see all students at the same time.

Students in 2 short rows

This arrangement may work with medium to small groups, teacher centered, where the
teacher can have a good class control and see each student from it position, also the students
can see the teacher, a blackboard or a projection. It allows the students to do personal
activities and textbooks. The teacher visibility of the class may facilitate for oral questions and
answers with the whole class and also other eliciting information activities like visual aids,
Realia and prompts.

This arrangement is not appropriate for group activities due the students are not seeing each
other. The student interaction with each other is reduced and they cannot help each other. A
student can mobilize in between rows but the classroom use is limited.