Classroom Seating Arrangements By: Walaa Samir Fayek Classroom management is extremely effective to create a better learning environment, in which the teacher invests in space, time and materials to achieve academic and personal development to the students. Personally, seating arrangements play a significant role in creating a stress-free and a beneficial atmosphere for the EFL learners and helping the teacher in controlling the class easily. It will also reflect their performance in the activities, how much they have grasped from the lesson and facilitate free movement in the classroom.
I consider the desks in semi-circles and U-shape are the ideal shapes for my EFL classroom. Arranging the class in a semi-circle allows the teacher to observe the students and also the students will be able to see their classmates and the board. It is also perfect for conducting group discussions and participating in group conversations by building the students’ self-esteem and confidence in sharing their ideas, especially for students who are shy to present their work to others. On the other hand, semi-circle seating arrangement might not be helpful sometimes as the teacher might find it difficult to meet the students one-on-one.
It is also not so handy if the class is not big enough because this seating arrangement will take much room than the normal row seating arrangement. As for the U-shape or “horseshoe” seating arrangement, it is a good choice as it allows each student to have a panoramic view of the whole class; classmates, teacher and the board as well, and gives the teacher a more direct contact with each student, promoting eye contact, improving classroom behavior and controlling discipline problems especially with young learners.
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Moreover, through the U-shape setup, the students won’t be able to hide or avoid participation and that will encourage them to improve their behavior. The U-shape seating allows a huge space for setting up projectors or any teaching materials and free movement in the class. Desks in U-shape require a large space, which might be a disadvantage that can negatively affect the teaching process. There are other seating arrangements that might be useful in teaching English, especially during the production stage, which are clusters and groups seating arrangement.
Young learners of EFL can be placed in small clusters so they can interact easily and dynamically with one another and work on group projects. Clusters help in mixing between students of various skill levels and abilities, allowing the teachers to move around the class and observe the students. One drawback is that some of the students will end up facing other students not the front of the class which may lead to a slight distraction even if it was for young learners or adults.
To sum up, seating arrangements have an effective role in enhancing the learners’ productivity and concentration during the class. There are many examples for seating arrangements like the semi-circle and the U-shape. Both of them can work perfectly if the teacher is conducting an informative lesson that needs the learners’ focus. Also, there are the clusters and groups seating arrangements that facilitate the group work and help the learners to connect their thoughts together.
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