How to achieve the best outcomes in a difficult young learner group

How to achieve the best outcomes in a difficult young learner group

Why are some classes a complete success and others a continuous struggle?

All of us, as teachers, have ever seen an educator who is capable of keeping children paying attention and being quiet. Otherwise, it is not the convention: in most of the cases, teachers have a hard work in the process of maintaining the engagement by children in lessons. This is my aim in this article: I would like to explore some possible strategies teachers may use in their classes when facing a challenging group of infants.

I heard an example of a struggling group in which half of the children were “turn around” as they had a bad behaviour; although the co-ordinator tried to speak to some of them, it had no effect on the infants. Some months later, this problematic group had a new teacher, who managed to make a notable transformation to a successful group. How did she achieve it? The answer is based on some strategies that this teacher performed.

Presenting a competitive constituent

This teacher made three groups, whom were given points throughout the lesson and at the end there would be a winner group. The educator was helping them with educational behaviour (expressions such as: please, thank you, and so on) as well as a good organization within the class. With this dynamic strategy, children were motivated to do the activities their best to receive a point; they feel like they were playing games and they are having fun while learning.

However, as the previous teacher did not use this method, children tried to act as if they did not understand the activity and pretend to ignore the educator. Thus, the classes were a complete struggle and definitely a chaos.


Simplicity in class guidelines

This innovative teacher decided to write a student’s name and the misbehaviour he or she did on the board, so that all of the class would see it; they do not like having their names on the board, so each week there were few and few names on the board. As we see here, the educator had a clear basis of what the rules were, and thus, children will follow good conducts along the course.

Rewarding co-operation

Children had a certificate at the end of every lesson. In these, it was written “Well done, you are getting better! You are a wonderful student!”. The purpose is not only to recompense their knowledge of English language, but also their effort in class and co-operation with other students along the course, which has a very positive outcome on the pupil’s behaviour.

This educator worked hard for over a month, and this problematic and challenging group at the beginning of the course became the favourite one for this teacher at the end!


Clearly, teachers can find numerous behaviours in children when they have to face a tricky class, but the educator’s body language, the tone of voice and facial expression are crucial elements for them to achieve this challenge. In my experience, some strategies work with some groups but not with others. This is the moment then when a teacher has to observe the students and find out the best plan for each specific class.

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