Whether you are teaching in a school or teaching privately, you will no doubt come across a situation where you have a range of levels in your classroom. Inevitably, some students will be starting from the very basics and struggling to retain information, while other students seem to be able to converse with ease and quickly get the hang of new language. What to do?
Some teaching techniques
This is a very real situation for me. Right now I have this situation in almost all of my classes. Of course, you can’t be too categorical when it comes to language. Students will always have something to learn no matter what their level, and everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Without pushing the less-capable students too hard, I still need to challenge the more advances students. How can I do that?
ESL School.com recommends the idea of creating sub-groups – separating the high level students from those at a lower level. This allows the teacher to set different tasks on the same theme, thereby challenging everyone within their capabilities. The downside is that it requires a lot more from you, and doesn’t really allow the lower level students to benefit from the knowledge of the more capable.
2. Homework assignments
Longman, meanwhile, suggests assigning different homework assignments depending on the level of the student. This method helps everyone to progress.
Thirdly, the TEFL Times puts forward the idea of pairing weaker and stronger students. The higher-level students then have the task of explaining things clearly to their partners, thereby solidifying their knowledge.
Some practical tips
A few other practical suggestions:
- Defer questions on grammar/vocabulary/spelling etc to higher level students
- Get the more advanced students to demonstrate an activity before the rest of the class takes part
- Monitor the brighter students for correct use of new language, and throw in extra challenges and words for their benefit