In smaller ESL class sizes many different activities could be implemented very successfully, depending on the students' language needs, age, gender, cultural background, and other factors, such as school curriculum requirement. For example, vocabulary games could be used with younger students and a debate on a current affairs topic with senior students. In my opinion, the communicative method of teaching could be applied very successfully in small ESL classes. When you said 'small classes', how many students in class did you have in mind?
My experience showed that if there are about 12 ESL students in class, the students can learn English very fast.
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