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What are The Best Speaking Activities for Mixed-Ability Classrooms?

What are The Best Speaking Activities for Mixed-Ability Classrooms? | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Mixed-ability classes are classes that have participants with different levels of proficiency. The differentiation can be in terms of the following traits:* Age* Maturity Level* Motivation* Intelligence* Mother Tongue* Attitude towards the subject* Language Ability

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

This list is not exclusive, there can be certain other traits due to which learners can vary in their abilities.

Before starting the classes, the teacher needs to have some information about the students attending the class- personality traits; purpose; and needs.

Getting to know your Students

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Interests
  • Objectives

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Needs Analysis by filling in Questionnaires

  • How will English help you in the future? (Job, Higher education, Settling Abroad, Communication)
  • How do you prefer working in class? (Individually, In pairs, In larger groups)
  • What activities do you like doing in class? (Role plays, Making Videos, Songs)
  • Which language skills do you most wish to develop? (Vocabulary, Fluency, Pronunciation, Grammar)

Speaking Activities:

  • Bingo: (Ice-Breaker)The teacher should start the class with a speaking activity called Bingo. This is not any speaking activity, but a kind of an ice-breaker wherein each student gets to know a particular thing about other co-participants. Each student gets a sheet of paper with questions relating to a particular quality/ trait/ possession/ recent experience of other students in a class. The number of questions is equal to one less than the total number of students. It is made clear that each name should appear only once. The first student who completes all the questions says “Bingo”, meaning the activity is complete.
  • Translation from L1 (Mother Tongue) to L2 (English): (Individual Activity)The teacher should ask each student to write about one life event that has had a significant effect on his life. This activity should be designed in such a manner that the learners who are not good at expressing themselves in English, can write that event in their mother tongue, and then translate it into English. Students can take a teacher’s help where they are facing problems in translation. After the time assigned for writing, students can come in front and narrate the event in English in front of the whole class. No corrections are made at this stage, but feedback is given by the teacher to all the students on one to one basis.
  • Interviews: (Pair Activity)Students are divided into pairs. Each pair should comprise students with different levels of English. Students are required to interview each other. A particular format can be provided by the teacher. Some details are- Full Name; Date of Birth; Qualifications; School Attended; Work Experience; Hobbies. The purpose of this activity is to help students know each other and give weaker students enough confidence to communicate with good English speakers. After the time set for this activity, each student can then prepare a report and present before the class the information he has collated from his partner. All the students in a class would now have some information about their peers.

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Same Ability Groups:

Before beginning a class, the teacher analyses the English language abilities of all the participants and decides an activity wherein students with the same language ability are grouped.* High Proficiency: Students with very high English language abilities are grouped to allow for fluency on certain topics wherein all the members of the group get an equal opportunity to speak.* Low Proficiency: Students who are not comfortable in English are grouped; then highly proficient students are asked to provide feedback to these students. Proper caution is taken that the feedback provided is not offensive to the speakers; to ensure this the teacher asks the students to note their feedback on a paper and then the teacher checks it and gives a go-ahead or suggests what to exclude.

Mixed Ability Groups:

Students with mixed abilities are grouped. The teacher explains the activity wherein students play different roles. Attempts are made by the teacher to ensure that the weaker students get to learn a lot from their stronger counterparts. The teacher gives the leadership roles to the weaker students so that they can get the maximum speaking opportunities when the group presents before the whole class.

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