Start your own School Tip 8: Best small class size


A few of you may have seen over on the VIP forum that Margit had a bit of problem this year in that her classes were totally over subscribed.

She’s just written in with a very elegant solution, that happened to solve lots of other problems too!

So far 6 students in a class was my favorite: Β not too many not too few. Β But actually, teaching 8 now, I see that 6 is a number where you cannot do many of the simple prep GE activities, and still need to prepare lots of Β mini cards.

Whereas with 8 kids I can basically teach the same class as with 30 kids . Β Cockroach game, timerace, lines quiz etc. etc. Β It all starts with this number. Β So I am very happy that I kicked myself and tried!

What is your ideal number of students in a class?

Be genki,


P.S. Β Once you’ve set your minimum class size, stick to it. Β If you do the parents will do the work for you of finding new students so you can open a new class. Β It’s like magic and a huge win-win. Β  Β And of course if you’re all wishy washy and don’t stick to it, well, Β we’ll see you back here next year πŸ™‚

Richard Graham

I'm on a mission to make education Genkiβ€”fun, exciting, and full of life! Genki English has now been researched by Harvard University and licensed by the British Council around the world. The results have been magical! Now I'm here to help you teach amazing lessons, with all the materials prepared for you, and to double your teaching income so you can sustainably help many more students in the future!

26 Responses to “Start your own School Tip 8: Best small class size”

  1. Emmanuelle


    When I teach very young children ( 3 to 5-6 years old ) I like to have tiny groups: 4-6 works best for me. I can help them better for some craft activities and they don’t have to wait too long when we play a board game, etc
    When I have older children (6/11 year old)it works well to have 6-8 children. As a matter of fact Margit is true, having a group of 6 children is great but up to 8 is great to play some of the games

  2. theglove0

    Yes, 8 is the best for me too. You can do small and big group games. Team and partner games work perfect. You don’t need to prep too many minicards and the class management is fine. Active and quiet games work. Card games too. The students can fit around one table. Students get enough turns without waiting and best yet – most of the Genki lessons teach 8 new words each lesson. This means every students gets a try for guessing or miming games. 8 is the magic number!

  3. Monica

    My ideal number of students per class is 8, as well!!!

    I had groups of 3, but is not as fun. And I had a group of 15, but I think they canΒ΄t get enough oppportunities to participate and say each vocabulary word.

  4. Annie

    I teach classes with only 1 student or maximum 3. It takes a while to find games suitable for this class size, but it’s definitely possible to have fun playing one-on-one games!

    The classroom is small. I’ve been wondering if it’d be appropriate to have the kids sit on the floor instead of on chairs at a table, which takes up a lot of space? Would it be appropriate for them to do writing exercises, for example, using their notebooks as a support? If yes, I’d be able to welcome bigger groups.

  5. Annie

    P.S. I have parents asking me if it’d be possible to put their children in the same class even though they’re 2 or 3 years apart, keeping in mind that my classes have only 3 students maximum. I’ve never tried–do you think this would work?

  6. richard

    Hi Annie,
    I always go for chairs without desks. Writing comes later, once the kids can speak and have done the phonics, so it’s much better this way!

    You could do it on the floor, but make sure it is very clean! πŸ™‚

    With splitting classes, the general rule is always by ability rather age. However, whilst 2 or 3 years apart can be a huge difference when the kids are very young, if they are a little older it might be possible if you have no other choice!

  7. Liliana


    I usually teach classes from 4 to 10 students, even 3 year olds and it has been working great so far. But I’ve already tried more than 10 and it turns to be confusing, as Monica said I also think not all of then have the opportunity to speak…
    My ideal numbers are 8 to 10 students!:)

  8. Marie

    Hi Richard,
    I recently came across your website and I really like the way you teach English.
    I’m thinking of starting my own school and I’d like to get in touch with French people using Genki English.
    Looking forward to hearing from you. Marie

  9. Luke Uren

    Are there specific laws in japan related to putting flyers in peoples mail boxes?

  10. Martin (mjwenzel)

    My smallest class is 5 kids, but they are 10-12 years old, so it works well to play card games and do a little more of than kind of thing. My next smallest is 6 kids and this class is a little bit younger 7-8 years old. What a difference…the energy just isn’t there. My exclusive Genki class has 8 students. It is a good number, but I’d still prefer more. I have one class of 11 and another of 12. In these classes, the kids are always wanting more and are excited because they really need to compete for my attention and shots during the games. I suppose my ideal size is exactly what our school advertises as our great small classes 8 – 15 kids…though are classes more often than not skew towards undersized 4 or fewer kids…12 is my favorite…just teetering on the edge of insanity, but that energy allows great things to happen.

  11. Debbie Naim

    Unfortunately, I have a small room and can only accommodate 7 kids. But it works for me.

  12. ZuZu

    We started with 8 students as a minimum to open the class but usually we have bigger groups up to 14 max. 12 students is optimal as we can play all the class games.

  13. Paula

    I find 12 in a class is my perfect number for playing games, for circle time, for making groups and teams as 12 can be divided into pairs, threes, fours or sixes. When playing board games we can have a tournament.

  14. daniel

    Four or six is the best size for kids’ classes. People who say 8 or 10 are perhaps thinking more of how many kids they can teach at once, rather than how much the kids get a chance to use the language they are learning.

  15. Julie

    Hi wonderful teachers! ❀️ As I teach in elementary school I have class sizes of 18 – 24! There is a lot of energy and it’s always fun for them to be with friends. We take turns well with the Interactive board game for each topic, and get into pairs easily to ask and answer questions. I can see that they are all speaking. I ask random questions to random students to check them for review but I don’t often hear them individually. When we play games where they individually collect cards from other students I have them all ask me a question at the end to check their confidence and fluency. I think this is OK because they feel safe to speak out and make mistakes and use the language many times before they speak out individually. When I was teaching privately I found 8 – 12 was best.βœ¨πŸ˜‰βœ¨

  16. Monika Kaul

    Hi Richard,
    My ideal number is 8 for all ages, though I set the limit at 10. I have foolowed your recommendation. that works well for me.


  17. Richard Graham

    Great replies everyone!

    @Daniel: Part of it is that we want to reach as many kids as possible – and the number of hours we have is limited. Having said that we see much better results for classes of 8 to 12 than smaller groups, mainly because the kids are learning from each other – especially in the games – rather than from the teacher!

  18. Iraj

    My ideal number of students per class is 10. I love these classes.
    Right now I have a class with 14 students. It’s not bad.
    But last year I had a class with 30 students. It was very difficult to manage.

  19. Marcus

    I teach in a small room which limits my class to 6 students. I would be able to add more but we need room for the parents. Many will stay and watch the classes. Some come from far so they have nothing else to do while their kids are in class. Plus, I’ve noticed that the parents who stay in class are the ones who recommend other students to our school. With my experience in larger classrooms I prefer a class size from 8 to 10 students for ES. As for Jr. High and HS I like to have bigger classes – around 20 students. For adults I prefer around 5. Private lessons are always good downtime to have between the bigger classes though.

  20. Martin

    I prefer more 8 or more, though it gets crazy hot and crowded with 12 kids and eliminates the possible to play games like Uno. Smaller than 8, things seem to fall apart for my classes.

  21. Carolyn

    I am an even number freak so my favorite bunch is of 6 – 8. If I have to choose, I’ll take 6. I’ve worked with up to 24 children in a group and although I’ve never had any problems, I find that 6 allows for everything. They can play, work alone, work in teams and do all kinds of work and games.

    There’s also something else. Working with 6 allows for plenty personal attention, so the kids get all the personal help they need!

    Also, our tables (and most tables) fit 6 kids very comfortably, so 8 does get a little tight (Last year our boss put 12 students in each class!!! ARGH!!!!). I have found that the moment kids find their vital space invaded, things get complicated, especially with younger kids. They get fidgety, whiney and pesky.

    Question: what’s with the comments on the mini cards? Too many to prepare with 6 students but not with more? I’m a little lost……!

  22. Martin

    Mini-cards are always useful, but certain games like Uno won’t work too well with a bigger class. I suppose if you prepare a set of mini-cards for each kid you should be fine when playing games where they walk around talking and collecting cards.

  23. Miss Keesa

    Since I teach at a school, I’m not in control of my class size. I have 24 kids in each class, whether I want to or not. The size can be a huge challenge; games take longer, not everybody gets a chance to practice, not everybody gets a chance to participate, etc. For me, my ideal class size would be 12. I love the “divisibility” of the number twelve; you can divide it into 2 groups of 6, 3 groups of 4, 4 groups of 3, or 6 groups of 2. It’s not big enough to be chaotic, the way 24 often is, but it’s big enough to have plenty of variety. (Of course, I’ve never taught anything smaller than 24 students….if I were to try 6 or 8, I might be hooked and never want to go back!)

  24. Miguel

    For me it’s 8 students!
    It’s easy to manage, easy to break up into pairs or small groups, but most importantly, I think you have a better idea of how students are performing. I had a group of 12 students and thought they were doing well. When summer session began, there were only 5. I was able to see how much they retained and how much they missed. To my surprise, they had many gaps that were not clearly evident.

  25. Carla Chazottes

    Hi, funny I started with 6 children as well for our association and than found that in winter when kids are often ill I sometimes only had a class with 3 kids. Not a problem but less fun. So the year after I started taking upto 8 kids as well but due to the success of the course I have a lot of subscriptions every year so today I have classes with 10 kids and that’s ok. I can handle upto 12 but over 12 it’s becoming tricky if you have only one hour, as pupils will talk a bit less. I love the Genki English method and I’m using it with my primary school kids as well. Thanks a lot Richard for all your wonderfull ideas!


    Having taught as many as 27 five- year olds in one class, I would say that 10-12 would be my ideal number. If the classroom is spacious enough you can have them in smaller groups and enjoy peer teaching rather often, as well as apply a more kinaesthetic approch. It tends to get a tad harder as students enter puberty, however, the better organised our lesson is, the less chances students get to create havoc πŸ™‚ . One to one classes are great for me when I need to help a particular student hone their skills, otherwise I do not find them challenging or motivating to me πŸ˜€ …let alone profitable!

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