Juan Alberto Lopez Uribe

Classroom Management – Juan

Affective Postures and Practices – Juan Alberto Lopez Uribe

Juan Uribe

How can we channel the lovely energy young learners bring to class? How can language be lived in a caring and empowering way? How can we promote affect but still have control of what happens in class?

Affective postures and practices make a big difference when it comes to fostering empowering and democratic language learning environments with young language learners. Here I share some affective and effective strategies you can live to promote authentic student engagement in your class:

Create welcome and goodbye experiences for every class and for the course for you and your students to appreciate these moments and make sense of what they mean individually and as a group. Students can feel through these the meaning of being part of a group.

Communicate expectations by having from three to five clear rules to be followed in class. Praise good behavior, allow time for transitions, and schedule individual attention to prevent discipline problems from happening. Pay also special attention to noticing and eliminating triggers that precede problematic behavior.

Establish Circle Time as a moment of communion in action in which students can bring out what is happening in their lives and can use language as a real means of communication to express themselves freely. This lively talk will not only acknowledge and validate students’ identities, but will also allow you to plan for relevant themes.

Allow students to mix English with their mother tongue in the early stages and help them say what they would like in English through modeling and shadowing. Have posters with frequent sentences on the walls to maximize language usage.

Make the use of activity cards a routine to share the activities and the order in which these will happen during the class. Activity cards allow the group to control time better, get ready for transitions, and also to talk about the different activities that have been planned. Allow students to make choices on what, when, and how they would like to learn.

Develop rapport by validating young learners with kind looks, having playful conversations, and talking about feelings. Listen and tell jokes as humor is a great way of connecting with young learners.

Create a stimulating pace of instruction by providing a rich variety of learning moments. Alternate easy and difficult, quiet and loud, individual and collective, seating and standing, free and structured.

Use a bell, chimes, clackers, or a rainstick to avoid having to shout to call students’ attention. You can also say “if you can listen to me, clap” and clap until the whole class is clapping with you.

Give instructions one at a time. Model what you would like them to do. Ask instruction-checking questions or ask a student to repeat in his/her words what they are supposed to do. This might seem redundant, but clear instructions maximize success and make sure all students are on the same boat.

Make your classes interactive by asking questions, giving students tasks, telling them to share in pairs. Make language concrete through visuals, movement, and realia.

Ask what students already know about a new theme before starting it, as it allows them to share their knowledge and to promote discussion within the group. Validating our young learners’ knowledge is essential to activate mental schemes and to promote significant learning.

Plan to have time left to talk about interesting experiences that students would like to share and discuss. Remember these are valuable moments and that you not teaching your class plan, but you are teaching young learners. Teaching less is more.

Recognize and acknowledge student effort and achievement by hanging their work, having a class journal, taking pictures, giving positive feedback, and celebrating their learning. Share all these with the school community and with their parents.

Engage students in different creative ways to reflect, evaluate, and self-evaluate behavior, cooperation, language use, and learning. Record and organize these in a class journal in order to show how their critical thinking has evolved.

Be present, honest, spontaneous, consistent, compassionate, and real.


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Published by

Juan Alberto Lopez Uribe

Juan is an EFL educator, who is passionate about affective language learning with young learners. In 1994, he founded a language school in São Paulo, where children learn English affectively through play, storytelling, and puppeteering. Juan is also very curious about how confidence, creativity, and technology can be fully lived in language learning. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Pedagogy and a Master's degree in Education. Juan enjoys backpacking, chatting, and collecting frogs.

6 thoughts on “Classroom Management – Juan”

  1. Juan,

    Reading this post I was almost overwhelmed by the warmth and generosity you clearly bring to your classroom. You are the kind of teacher I hope my daughter will meet often on her travels through the world of learning. Circle time, activity cards, and concrete and well paced instructions. All of these ideas are fantastic and regardless of the age of the learner, can help make any language classroom more human and welcoming.

    Thanks for so many ideas and such a uplifting read.


    1. Kevin,

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I give my best to empower children through caring and dialogue. I myself would like to have a language teacher that folllowed the postures and practices I shared.

      Telling me that I am the kind of teacher you would like your daughter to have is the ultimate compliment. The more we put our ideas to be shared, discussed, and enhanced the higher the chance that our children will have more affective and effective teachers.

      Send you a big hug!


  2. Juan,

    This list is so incredibly helpful, and like Kevin, I am struck by the warmth that comes from your ideas. You have made something which seems so challenging at times incredibly manageable.

    I just wanted to tell you the ones that I really fell in love with:

    Ask what students already know – Yes! A small sense of success goes a long way. I think this works well with all age groups!

    Plan to have time left to talk about interesting experiences – even my adult learners need this. Allowing space for these moments to arise can bring members in a class closer together. I sometimes hesitate going into “Story mode” because something in the back of my mind says we need to do this work, but when I let go of that idea, the rewards that come back in class are present in the engagement and friendships I see during and after class.

    Allow students to mix English with their mother tongue – Absolutely. A way to help them see that you see them for who they are.

    These are just a few that connected. I can’t wait to share these with my teacher-trainees next semester to see what they have to say.

    Happy that you are out there writing things like this Juan. Keep it going!

    1. Dear Josette,

      Thank you for writing me these lovely lines. These postures and practices might seem like details to many, but together they form a very different paradigm in which learning is a moment in which we commune life.

      I believe that through true validation, relevant dialogue, and genuine sharing, we can create remarkable and memorable learning experiences for our students and ourselves. Flattered that you are thinking of using my ideas in your teacher training. Affective Learning rocks!

      Hugs and hugs,


  3. Sharing is caring and once again you are sharing your great experience with the world.
    Keep walking and dreaming my friend.
    Thank you for everything!

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