When you become a successful ESL teacher, you will see the mixed-ability ESL/EFL classes are very common in schools as well as universities throughout the world. Well, we can understand the fact this is not an ideal situation, but it will surely happen and it’s a major concern for most of the TEFL teachers, not just new ones. Well, this assortment can bring some challenges, but also teaching opportunities to differ your classroom activities and methodology with TEFL certification online.
So, what will you do?
How can you have mixed ability classes?
Here are some of the effective teaching ways to deal with mixed ability classes and safeguarding the fact that all your students get success in their language learning journey.
- A Needs Analysis
As a 21st-century EFL/ESL teacher, you need to remember that all students are different. Your students’ productive skills will vary, some learners will have brilliant grammatical knowledge while others may have had very little practice speaking. An effective needs analysis will aid you to classify the strong points and weaknesses of your learners and where they vary. This will allow you to plan the appropriate learning activities for your students.
- Know Your Students
For teaching mixed ability EFL/ESL classes, knowing your students personally will help you a lot. Take the time to ask a few basic questions about their strengths, weaknesses, interests and objectives, etc. The faster you build a relationship, the easier your job will be. Perhaps you can build a simple questionnaire that will provide all the information you need to understand their different needs. You may include questions like –
- What things do you like to do outside of school?
- Why are you learning English, how will it help you in the future?
- Do you like working alone, in pairs or in a larger group?
- What do you like – role plays, making videos, using songs etc.?
- What topic would you select if you get an opportunity to talk something for a minute in English?
And so on… make your needs analysis more interactive. Through this you’ll also distinguish exactly what activities and subjects your learners will like, how can you keep them motivated and focused and so on.
- Use Formless Activities
Well, rather than just providing unambiguous directions, frame your activities in open ways so that your students can do as much as they can and as fast as they can. For example, for speaking activities, try to make use of class mingles. In a class mingle, the students move around and speak to every other student in the class. This way, your students will interact with other students too. They are free to complete the task.
- Include Different Types of Tasks
Providing your learners with the opportunity to do regular pair or group work can help them to feel less nervous. It also gives your students the chance to use more conversational language in English and be confident when speaking it. The pair and group work also allow learners to take on roles and responsibilities, to be more responsible for their actions, and to experience success as a team. Well, depending on the task, students can be paired with those who are a comparable level for easy and comfortable connections, or in mixed ability groups to encourage peer teaching.
- Have Extra Activities
Always try to have some extra activities up your sleeve. This is also one of the most effective teaching strategies for the mixed ability EFL/ESL classes. You should have some activities for the stronger students and when they are finished you can give them the extra work. You should also have some extra activities for the slower students as well. Through this way, those students will appreciate that you are giving them extra attention.
- Let students’ first language (L1)
Sometimes, allowing L1 in monolingual classrooms is acknowledged more in EFL/ESL nowadays. This can be a great way to aid in mixed ability EFL/ESL groups. Slower learners in your class may get help from access to dictionaries or online translators. L1 also can be used to give slower students the confidence to be able to express any of their doubts and can motivate the stronger ones to merge their understanding as well. L1 into activities can be fun and encouraging, and will help save a lot of time in the planning and research phases.
Conclusively, we can say that the ESL/ESL teachers can use this six-level development to plan an effective and personalized syllabus, with lots of opportunities. Also, it offers a wide diversity of extra learning activities, ideas and so on. Having a mixed ability class is a reality in your TEFL journey with the TEFL certification online, so you need to be equipped to deal with this reality. Fortunately, there are a number of teaching ways you can anticipate and so you can plan properly. The major aim of these teaching strategies is to produce a positive learning environment, which is all part of promoting better knowledge.