Most seating arrangements designed for the TEFL classroom have two clear objectives: to help support communication and to help the teacher maintain control.
Objective 1- Supporting Communication
At the end of the day, we learn a language in order to communicate in that language. Whether that is by reading, writing, speaking or listening, it all comes down to giving and receiving information.
In our classrooms we teach new words and grammar but also, just as importantly, we want our students to practise their language skills, so we set up our classroom in a way that supports that goal. We need our students to be able to have eye contact with each other and the teacher.
Objective 2 – Maintaining Control
In any normal classroom, maintaining control is important but in a TEFL classroom we often have the added difficulty that many of our exercises are communication exercises, which means giving away a little of the control to the students. To help manage such situations, it is easier for the teacher if they have set up the lesson in such a way that they are able to keep visual contact on the class so that they can quickly see any problems and be able to regain control easily.
It is especially important for new teachers because, with so many new things to try and think about at the same time, having to fight to keep control, or even get it back, is one stress we could do without. So by having the classroom seating set up in the right way you are just making your life easier.