The focus of this essay is to firstly identify the problems that exist, for both teachers and students, in teaching English as a second language to large classes. Potential benefits to teaching large classes are also identified. This paper then explores to what extent communicative language teaching (CLT) can be used. In considering the problems associated with large classes, practical and feasible solutions to lessen teachers" burdens are provided, bearing in mind that an effective learning environment is required for students. .
In the context of teaching English to speakers of other languages there is no set definition of what constitutes a "large" class (Ur, 1996, Hayes 1997, Hess, 2001). This definition will, quite understandably, differ from one teacher to another, one situation to another and from one country to another. A response may also be influenced by what sort of English class is being taught. For example, a class on pronunciation compared with a writing class might well produce a different definition of large. .
In Australia, English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students" (ELICOS) classes have a maximum number of 18 students per class and as such might well be considered a large class. On the other hand, students from several Asian countries have anecdotally reported that they are accustomed to classes numbering between 50 or 60 and that such class sizes, while large, are considered normal. Others report class sizes of 100+ (Locastro, 2001, Alimi, Kassal and Azeez, 1998, Gluscevic, 1999, Xu, 2001). Research indicates that "large" can mean anything from 50 to 300+ students if referring to English classes being taught outside Australia, and particularly if referring to third world countries such as India or Pakistan.
Research shows that there are many more problems associated with teaching large classes than benefits. Hess, (2001) and (Hayes, 1997) cite control management issues and the inability to allow for individual learning styles.