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The Problem of Mixed-Ability ESL Classrooms in TEFL Teaching

The Problem of Mixed-Ability ESL Classrooms in TEFL Teaching | ITTT | TEFL Blog

It's almost impossible to avoid the situation where all students will be at the same level. Different people have different learning curves. Most of the schools have a level testing procedure, but, despite this fact, within one classroom, we can meet fast learners and slow learners. A good teacher should know how to work with any type of student. So, in my essay, I'm going to discuss how to teach mixed-ability classes.

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

Learning Process

Let's start by considering how to arrange an effective learning process for students at varying levels. First of all, I believe that pair and group work can be very helpful with mixed-ability classes. Stronger students will help weaker ones to keep up with new material. Moreover, group work reduces nervousness since all members of the group are responsible for the result. On the contrary, there is a risk that weaker students will just let stronger students do all the work. That's why a teacher should always keep both eyes open and supervise the activities.

Extra Activities

Secondly, to my mind, it's a great idea to have additional tasks or activities prepared for the lesson. Some students who will accomplish the task quickly should have the opportunity to move on to the next task and not wait for them. Maybe it will sound a bit selfish, but I hated to wait for everyone in the class to finish. I was getting bored, using my mobile and eventually could easily lose interest in the subject. In my opinion, a teacher should think up fun and enjoyable games to motivate slower students. If they see that they are missing something interesting, they will start to work harder to join the rest of the class. For example, to sign a song with a new vocabulary or to take a quiz.

Homework

What's more, I think teachers should adapt homework for different levels, for instance, to give stronger students more challenging assignments and weaker students to prepare less complicated tasks. It's significant to give more homework to fast learners and give them assignments at the level appropriate to their skills and abilities. If you overload stronger students with homework, they can feel punished and show less knowledge than they have.

Outside The Classroom

Furthermore, due to the class's lack of time, it's always a good idea to send some additional material to a student's email. We live in a modern world where everyone has laptops, tablets, or smartphones with access to the Internet. I guess it would be nice to send a video on the topic introduced in the class. Nowadays, there so many English teachers that are making amazing video blogs. Even our TEFL course offers videos to supplement written units. In this way, we will give slower students a chance to work on new material at their own pace.

Are you ready to teach English abroad or online?

It seems reasonable to assume that where there's a will, there's away. If a teacher makes efforts and gets corresponding knowledge, he can effectively work with mixed-ability classes. In my mind, it's very important to improve yourself as a teacher all the time. I've learned a lot from this course, and I'm very grateful for all the knowledge I got here. I want to finish my essay with a saying that I think should become a tagline for every teacher – By learning, you will teach; by teaching, you will learn.

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