logo ELT Concourse: a free training course for TKT: modules 1, 2 and 3
The Concourse

TKT Core Module 3: Teachers' and learners' language in the classroom
Classroom management


This is a complicated area and there are four more guides following this which look at the aspects of classroom management in turn.
Think of this as the general overview.


Key concepts in this guide

By the end of this guide, you should be able to understand and use these key concepts:

  • managing the space
  • establishing systems
  • establishing rules
  • thinking about needs
  • thinking about variety

Look out for these words like this in the text.
There will be tests at the end of the guide for you to check that you understand the ideas.


Managing the space

Spaces vary so this can only be a general guide.  How you group learners is covered in another guide in this course.  Here, we'll look at generalities.
If you are teaching at the moment, take a minute to draw a quick plan of the room you teach in.  Which does it most resemble?

  1. Long and thin
    long thin
    Which is the best position for the whiteboard?
    In the second arrangement, the learners will be at various distances.  Those on the left will be a long way away and that makes it difficult for them to see a key aid.  It will also mean that the teacher will be far away from some learners when he / she is using the board.
    In the first arrangement, all the learners will be about the same distance away and the teacher will be central, not off at one end.
    Moral: move the board if you have arrangement 1!
  2. Square
    Which is the best arrangement?
    There are advantages and disadvantages to both but having white board directly opposite a window is sometimes unhelpful if you want to use it for projection.  In the second arrangement, however, the door is in a better place because latecomers have to come past you to get in.  They can't sneak in at the back!

Whatever your teaching space is like there are few things to consider when setting it up:


Setting up systems, rules and routines

We are, all of us, creatures of habit to some extent no matter whether we consider ourselves free spirits or not.
Having clear systems and rules helps our learners feel comfortable and allows them to focus on learning without the distraction of a changing environment.
It is a good idea occasionally to shake people out of their comfort zones but doing that too frequently will disturb and confuse them.
This is especially true of children and teenagers but adults, too, want some stability and predictability.

Systems, rules and routines can include:

  1. where people sit
  2. how homework is delivered
  3. how it is returned
  4. marking convention for written work (e.g., underline error in red, underlining good use in green, using symbols for missing words, wrong word order etc.)
  5. whether people just ask questions and answer or raise their hands
  6. whether first language use is allowed (see the guide to using language appropriately)
  7. whether eating and drinking is allowed
  8. forms of address

and so on.

class contracts

With younger learners especially, it helps to have a class contract to which everyone can refer and which everyone signs.  It can include, for example:

It should also include what the teacher promises to do!

and so on.

spice of life

Needs, variety and planning

Variety is the spice of life  

While it is true that people like systems and routines because they make us comfortable, we also like a bit of variety in our lives.
This can be achieved by:

You should also consult, or remind yourself of the contents of:
The guide to learners' needs
The guide to learners' characteristics
in Module 1 of this course.

self test

Self-test questions

Before you go on, make sure you can answer these questions.  If you can't, go back to the sections which give you trouble.

If you are happy with your progress, go on.


Tests and practice for TKT

This is a short, simple guide so there's only one practice test.

Test 1 A gap-fill task

Now you can return to the Module 3 index: arrow
or go on to the next guide which is to grouping learners.