Corporate Class Challenge (Problems in the classroom)

have been teaching English for more than 3 years but I haven’t had any chances
to teach Corporate classes until I
started working at The Future English Training Specialist in 2011. Now, I have handled some companies, such as Mahkamah
Konstitusi Republik Indonesia, Actavis, WIKA Gedung, and TNI AD.
all companies I have taught, Mahkamah Konstitusi is the most memorable. I guess
it is because I have been teaching there since March 2011. I have
made a great relationship
with my students there (but personally, I prefer calling them my partners). We
even have our own discussion group in BlackBerry.

So, Have I got problem teaching Corporate classes?

I have!

I must admit that I’ve got more problems in Corporate
classes than the common classes. The student’s age, position in the company,
level of English, willingness to learn, and punctuality are some problems that
teachers (especially me!) mostly encounter in the class. Even I got a complaint
from my first Corporate class because of those. This is why Corporate classes
are challenging. Now, let’s discuss each problem:

Student’s age

Based on my experiences, most of the students are older
than me—even some of them are as old as my parents! This means teachers have to
prepare suitable lessons and games. Never rely on ready-made lesson plan.
Teachers need to analyze the classroom’s type then tailor their own lesson
plan. Once, I gave my Corporate students a drawing game where they had to draw
a picture and the others made a guess what it was.  It turned out really bad—aka. a
nightmare—nobody wanted to draw or guess. Finally, I figured out that some
students were reluctant to play because they think they are old enough to play
silly games. However, in other class, the situation was totally 180-degrees
different. It was a huge success. We played the same game and the class was in
chaos! Everyone was shouting and defending their guesses. At the end of the
game, we shared a very hard laugh.
The point is, no matter how old your students are,
analyze the classroom’ type first. Try to read the composition of the students.
Are they reluctant or willing to play TPR games? Do they like studying in
peace? Do they enjoy having a discussion on the latest news? When the teachers
have found the type, it’ll be less painfull to tailor the lesson plan.
Position in the Company

Another challenging problem in teaching Corporate classes
is the student’s position in the company. From Junior to Senior staff and from
manager to head of department. If the class is arranged by the position,
sometimes it’s easier to design the teaching plan. Unfortunately, teachers
sometimes also get mixed class, where staff, manager, and even the VP sit
together in one class. Here, a possibility of student’s reluctance to participate
in the class is higher. Well, just picture yourself as a junior staff and the
managers sat next to you, then you had to play or study in groups with them.
How awkward it could be!
Of course, not all mixed classes are like that. Again, it
goes back to the company’s environment. There are some companies where all
staffs from the lowest to the highest positions get along really well. Then you
won’t have any problems about it. Lucky you d^.^b However, as a teacher, we
can’t pick the class that is easier to teach or has less problem by ourselves.
So how to solve the problem? Again, you need to read the
classroom situation—whether they are mixed or not—find out whether they are
okay studying with their bosses or not. When you have gathered enough
information, you can start planning the lesson. Moreover, be cautious about how
to correct senior student with in front of the juniors.
Level of English

Knowing the student’s level of English is essential before
starting the class. Otherwise, there will be a havoc. For example, you prepared
a lesson about describing changes using USED TO (mostly this is taught in
intermediate level) then you discovered that the student’s level was basic—even
worse, foundation—Trust me, there would be a silence so long that it was almost
eerie in the class because none of the student could figure out the lesson.
As far as I know, every English institution usually gives
a placement test to get the information before the class starts. Based on the
result, teachers can prepare the lesson well. However, when the institution
doesn’t provide the test or the company doesn’t want it (usually this situation
happens when it is a conversation class), the teachers should give the test by
themselves, just to know the composition of the English level in the class.
Personally, in the first meeting, I start the class with
a chit-chat and try to get to know each other. I find this very useful and
effective because you can guess the student’s level of English from their
answers. Finally, you can tailor the most suitable lesson for your class.
Willingness to learn
Have you ever had a class where whatever games to play or
practice to do, the students refused? No matter how interesting the game is or
how easy the task is, they keep refusing. I have. If this situation happen,
maybe the students are lack of willingness to learn. In my opinion, mood shares
the biggest cause for the problem.
Students’ mood—especially the bad one—can really colour the
class’s atmosphere, let’s say grey and dull. Bad mood may affect the class,
even other students. There are many root causes of the bad mood. Tiredness,
stacks of work to do, boredom are just some of them. Unfortunately, it is the
teacher’s job to live it up. So, how does teacher colour the class in
I remember one of my colleague told me about teaching Corporate

“We are not only an educator, but
also an entertainer. So keep them entertained everytime.” 

Since then, I
really take the advice seriously. One way to boost their willingness to study
is to entertain the students. Try sharing jokes, show a funny picture, or even
play a funny video. From there, you can initiate a discussion without them
realized. It will be better if you can find jokes, pictures, and videos related
to your lesson. However, teacher should set a clear boundary about this. The
portion as an entertainer has to be smaller than an educator. Don’t make
yourself as a clown. Oherwise, you will end up getting your students’ respect.

How would you feel if you had spent hours of preparing
the class and on the next day most of the students came 30 minutes before the
class ended—even worse, none of them came? Angry, disappointed, exaperated,
even frustated must be some that come across the mind. Well, this happens a lot
especially when you teach government’s institution, especially in my country. I’ve
go no idea why the students rarely come on time. There are many reasons to
this, lack of willingness to study, lazy, too tired to study, have got lots of
fishes to fry, and still counting.
of the students may be paying for the classes themselves, whilst other will be
sent their by a company. Students who pay for their own classes tend to be more
interested and motivated. For students sent by their employer, it is possible
that they could see this as time off work
, or even as a permission to skip the class.
Regrettably, teachers have to be ready everytime. Prepare
more than 1 lesson plan (including games, warmer, and practices) because it is
possible you are going to deliver the lesson in 30 minutes. Then, how do we
deliver the lesson? Personally, I usually go straight to the language target
for the day and drill it. I keep the practices for the next day and send the
lesson’s note to their e-mails, sometimes with additional practices to do at
home. This will save the time. Moreover, this strategy works really well on me.

At last, these problems can’t be used as an excuse to
give up the class or even quit. Teachers must be creative and full of ideas. Of
course, the students expect us to be able to handle the class well. Sometimes,
we get inspiration in the hardest situation. The bottom line is, keep yourself
ready, prepare well, and collect various games and practices. We’ll never know
when we need them.
P.S. I wrote this article based on my personal

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