Leaving the Classroom

by Helene J. Uchida

When class is over, we ask the students to get their bags and line up at the classroom door. The teacher stands at the open door and faces the first student on line. The teacher then asks that student, a student focused question, like: When’s your birthday? or What’s your telephone number? or What’s your favorite sport? The student answers in English and then the teacher smiles and says Goodbye or See you next time, and the student repeats that farewell in English and leaves the room. Then the teacher asks a different question to the next studnet, following the same procedure. If a student cannot answer the teacher’s questions, then that student goes to the end of the line and gets another chance after the others have finished. The teacher can then give a little more individualized attention to the student the second time around. Everyone walks out of the classroom smiling.

How can you utilize this method? If you have small, beginning classes, you can ask all the students the same question. Idealistically, it would be something covered in class that day, like How old are you? I’m __________. When the students line up to depart, they would not only have a chance to interact individually with the teacher but also have a chance to review the day’s concept upon leaving the room. Also, the students standing at the end of the line would hear the question over and over again, which means they would be very confident by the time they stood in front of the teacher for their departure question.

With small, more advanced classes, you could ask various questions (as we do), which would have a wider range and be more challenging. Of course, these questions would stem from syntax covered in class. For example: Can you swim? Do you like yogurt? How many people are there in your family? Do you have a pet?

For those of you teaching at public or private schools with bigger classes, you could stop students at random to ask them a departure question. Or you could ask every 5th student as he/she leaves the room. Those who get stopped by the teacher rightfully feel “special.”

This farewell line-up takes about one minute, and the students always leave smiling, knowing that the teacher is personally interested in them and that they can respond and interact on an individual basis in English. The parents waiting in the lobby are also happy to see their children cheerfully speaking to their teacher in English with confidence. Everyone goes home happy!