Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to have different teachers, classes and all relevant materials available for all students requiring class. Especially if your academy or school is small and there are limited resources. In these cases, it’s often necessary to put students of different levels together in the same class. Hopefully we’re not talking about a major difference, but perhaps students that, ideally, would have other class options.
While not ideal, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If we dodge the following landmines, there are methods we can employ to the benefit of ourselves and our students, I have also listed these below!
‘Flying with the fastest’ – I quite like this expression, having heard it several times. Essentially, we should avoid being tempted to pay attention only to the most advanced students. If somebody immediately answers a question correctly, it’s still important to check that everybody else understands. Students will often be too shy or embarrassed to pipe up if they think they are the only one who doesn’t understand.
Demotivation – If the students indeed vary from lower to a slightly higher level, it can be easy to motivate and encourage all of them in the same way, given that it’s the same class. Doing so is a mistake. Encouragement should be tailored to level to a large extent, being harsher on more advanced students will help them, while over-correcting lower level ones may be intimidating and make them feel less inclined to study or work hard.
Ideas and Solutions
Vary Classroom Activities – It can be very useful to use different activities to keep everybody in the class occupied and using their time effectively.
Grouping is your friend here, so split them up into groups and give different activities to each. While doing a listening activity, have the student focus on different things. Give them different questions according to their level or assign just one speaker for them to focus on.
Leave the problem alone – To a certain extent. With different levels in class, students can be encouraged to help those with a lower level to improve.
Lower level students might feel more emboldened, to speak and write more, use higher level vocabulary and be more confident when they speak.
Equally, the more advanced students may be as confident as the others if they feel that they are helping others and on a more cynical level, a certain amount of ego boosting is also fortuitous.
Any more ideas to add to this post? Let me know in the comment section!