I taught high school and ran into the same issue. Stand in the doorway with a bucket; as each student walks in the room, have them put their phones, etc in the bucket. Do not let anyone in your classroom unless they do this. Your next step is to 'shot a hostage' so to speak. You need to show your authority right away. So the next time someone acts up. Kick that person out of your class - permanently. Tell the class from that point forward this is the policy. And of course follow up with the same action if someone else acts up, speaks out, or does whatever you don't approve of in your classroom.
You can't make them learn or enjoy it. But you can weed out the troublemakers.
I had a group of about 6 boys that did the same thing. I gave them an assignment to do a presentation. All six of them played dumb, similar to what you described. So I told the entire class that those 6 just failed the class. Not the assignment. And told them to never come back. From that point on - all the kids straightened up.
If "around" 40 students in a class is a surprise, you must have been teaching in language schools before. In my 5 universities the norm was 28-42 students, with classes of 60 - 100 as occasional outliers.
Question: are students entitled to quietly ignore their teacher? Did you ever do so as a university student?
All college oral English classes in China exhibit a 'bell curve' of ability. Most FTs teach solely to the top 10% of students. I tried to teach to the 'mean', but doing so requires significant use of Chinese.
If 1/3rd of your class is responsive, you are likely somewhat entertaining and involved. Moderate your expectations and enhance your enjoyment of the teaching process. Being a caring, attentive and cheerful teacher is often lesson enough to Chinese students who have suffered more than a decade with ppt Chinese 'teachers' droning.
"40 students oral communication class in Chinese vocational college" is a madness. So, my idea is to ask for a split of the class or a split with the employer.
Well you are in a mess huhhh.
Obviously I can't see what's going on.. However
This worries me into assuming that it may be your teaching style - perhaps you aren't best suited to this age group and if so then move to a more suitable school?I haven't had classes this bad since I taught in Japan. Any ideas? I've been teaching in China for five years now and though I've had problems, I've never had students as unmotivated as these.
When you say "remedial questions" and "they don't understand what to do .... for easy tasks" this makes me wonder whether their level of English is higher than your lesson aims..
But without seeing what's going on it's difficult to suggest ideas, like throwing or smashing an old hand phone deliberately placed with a good student in "no man's land" but that might mean you get beaten up.
You could threaten to mark the unruly mob as absent even though they are there unless they get their shit together and switch off their hand phones.
You could ask a senior (one who puts the shits up students) tutor to sneak in at the back and observe.. But that might screw you up if it's your teaching style that's a fault.
You could ask a senior teacher to speak with each one individually to find what's causing all this.. I doubt if they are the same in other lessons.
Of course being the sole foriegn teacher that's supposed to be where you can shine because you aren't being compared to other foriegner teachers.
So I'm thinking that you are teaching the wrong age group..
I have some big problems with my English oral communications classes here in Guangzhou, China. First off, I have around 40 students per class (freshmen in a vocational college). I'm the only foreign teacher here. Secondly, the classroom is long and narrow, seating perhaps 200. Students sit next to each other, in rows, facing me.
Anyway, that should sound pretty bad already but it's worse than just those logistical problems. About one-third of the class is great- they're responsive and really seem to enjoy English. They sit in front. Then there is a 'no man's land' in the middle where nobody sits. In the back, they are a mixed bunch but at least one-third of the class are doing absolutely nothing. They cannot answer the most remedial of questions and spend their time on WeChat or playing games. They are sullen and even surly sometimes when I tell them to put their phones away. I sometimes get looks like 'what gives you the right to tell me what to do?' when I try to steer them to participate.
You could say, 'just make a seating chart or prohibit sitting behind such and such a row.' I could- but it would backfire. Getting these young adults to even tell us their hobby causes resentment enough, asking them to actually stand up and move causes even more- no, it's not an answer. I can't even play games like the telephone game or a memory game. They sit and debate in Chinese about what they should do and the goal above all seems to be to get away with speaking the least amount of English as possible. I've tried, and still do try, breaking them up into groups. Mostly, while they are supposed to be completing an exercise they're just hanging out, chatting and joking in Chinese. When it's time for presentation, they protest that they don't understand what to do (and folks, we're talking incredibly easy tasks). The fact is that a third of class just doesn't listen to a word I say.
I haven't had classes this bad since I taught in Japan. Any ideas?
I've been teaching in China for five years now and though I've had problems, I've never had students as unmotivated as these.