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Advantages and Disadvantages of Teaching Monolingual vs. Multilingual Groups

Advantages and Disadvantages of Teaching Monolingual vs. Multilingual Groups | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Before we delve into the advantages and disadvantages, let's clarify what monolingual and multilingual groups entail. Here are brief definitions for each:

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author, an alumni of ITTT (International TEFL and TESOL Training). They do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of ITTT. The content provided in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as official endorsement or representation by ITTT.

Monolingual Groups

The term "monolingual" refers to singularity, indicating that a group or class hails from the same part of a country, sharing not only a common nationality but also the same mother tongue. In such cases, when they embark on learning a new language, they often encounter shared challenges due to their common background. Their familiarity with each other from school or shared knowledge of English can also influence their learning experience. Monolingual groups are typically found in non-English-speaking countries, where their native language often permeates the classroom despite attempts to maintain English as the primary language of instruction.

Multilingual Groups

As the name suggests, these groups are composed of students from various cultural backgrounds, representing a multitude of countries such as France, Italy, India, South America, and more. In such classes, activities can be diverse, often centered around exploring the unique cultures of each student's homeland. Importantly, since students in multilingual groups do not share the same linguistic background, English becomes the common medium of communication. Activities in these classes can encompass cultural exploration and may include interviews among students to foster a deeper understanding of each other's backgrounds, all conducted in English.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Monolingual Groups:


  • Common Background: Students in monolingual groups often share similar cultural backgrounds and challenges, making it easier for the teacher to address their collective needs.
  • Efficient Teaching: A homogenous group can lead to more efficient lessons, as the teacher can tailor activities and instruction to address common issues and doubts.


Overuse of Mother Tongue: All students sharing the same native language may resort to communicating in it, translating English to their native language, which can hinder language learning. Teachers must consistently enforce the use of English.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Multilingual Groups:


  • English as the Common Ground: In multilingual groups, English serves as the primary means of communication since students don't share a native language. This fosters an environment where English is the default language.
  • Motivated Learners: Students in multilingual groups are often highly motivated, as many have relocated to a foreign country and need to learn English for work or personal reasons.


  • Diverse Cultural Backgrounds: The vast cultural differences can pose challenges, and students might not have anything in common, making it crucial for teachers to employ effective activities and strategies.
  • Alphabet Variations: Some students may come from countries with different alphabets, which can be challenging for teachers. Proper preparation and suitable activities are essential to overcome this obstacle.


In summary, whether a monolingual or multilingual class is preferable depends on the teacher's comfort and expertise. Teachers should identify their strengths and adapt their teaching methods accordingly.

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