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Teaching Monolingual Groups vs. Multilingual Groups

Teaching Monolingual Groups vs. Multilingual Groups | ITTT | TEFL Blog

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Shrutee V. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Classes or group of students generally fall into two major categories:

  • MONOLINGUAL GROUP – This group comprised of students living in their home country and all students speak in one common language. Here they learn English as a Foreign Language.
  • MULTILINGUAL GROUP –In this group students are usually living in an English speaking country, but are from various nationalities. Here they learn English as a Second Language.

Difference between these Groups

The main aim is to evaluate the differences between teaching these two different classes. There are several factors to be considered when dealing with multilingual and monolingual classes. Students coming to multilingual class have different cultures, different language and no common language between them. Students attending a monolingual class are often from the same background and speak the same language. Both types of classes offer a variety of advantages and disadvantages.

Also Read: Should I take a TEFL course online or in a classroom?

Benefits of teaching a monolingual group

Advantages of teaching monolingual groups or classes are that the students are at the same pace, as they speak the same language, cultural background and so they almost experienced similar problems while learning the English Language. It makes it easier for a teacher to teach them in a group instead of an individual. Any explanation of a problem faced by one student can help other students too. Students communicate in their mother tongue which some time proves as a huge advantage when they are doing group or pair work. In turn, it allows the lesson to run more efficiently.

Downsides of teaching a monolingual group

The biggest disadvantage of teaching monolingual group is that the students find it easier to express their feelings or doubts in their mother tongue. The temptation or urge to speak in English is less, which leads to a decrease in the desire to learn English. In monolingual classes, students may often be in the class out of compulsion not out of want. And the chance of practicing the English Language outside the class is very rare as all of them have another common language to talk.

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Benefits of teaching a multilingual group

Advantages of teaching multilingual group are that students are forced to speak in English out of the need for communication with each other or with the teacher, as it is the common ground which everyone possesses. Such types of classes are usually held in English speaking countries where students are exposed to the usage of English even outside the class. This gives better exposure and hence resulting in passive learning along with active learning in the classroom. In such a group, students are often more motivated as compared to monolingual groups.

Downsides of teaching a multilingual group

Disadvantages of teaching multilingual group are that students are less likely to have similar grammar or pronunciation difficulties. In this situation, the teacher will have to work hard to try and find out all potential issues for each student. Each student may face an individual problem and so the student will need personal attention from the teacher which will cause a loss of time of the whole class. Also because it is harder to communicate for a student, the class dynamic may suffer.

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Although each type of group has its challenges to be faced while teaching. It depends on how smart and efficient a teacher is to handle various groups.

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