Mixed ability classes Does it work? Get them involved Seating Some classroom ideas
Does it really work? Most, if not all, language classes contain students of mixed abilities different learning styles different learning speeds variations in motivation
Does it really work? It is always better to create groups with smaller differences in language knowledge Too big differences one group frustrated and the other one bored Smaller differences the “higher level” is still achievable and thus motivating
Get them involved The best way to improve cooperation with your students They feel responsible for their lessons and start working harder The topic of your first lesson in the new school year Can be done in English or Czech
Get them involved A whole class discussion: Write questions on the board Give the class about 5 min to think their answers over Get each student answer Write their answers down
Get them involved Possible questions: What do you like/don`t like about English? Where do you use English/What do you need it for? What are you good at in English? (L, S, G, R..) Do your parents speak English?
Get them involved Another way is to use a questionnaire (copy) Yet another way is to send a sheet of paper and ask the students to write their opinions and ideas on that sheet
Seating Another important aspect We need effective interaction ◦ Teacherstudent ◦ Studentstudent
Seating Horseshoe has proven very suitable and more effective for the English language classes In the horseshoe (or a circle) shape, students can make an eye contact with everyone else in the class and thus interact more naturally Also weaker students tend to hide away less and the stronger ones dominate less
Seating The horseshoe shape creates a greater sense of equality The teacher standing in the circle is then also an equal partner Such seating arrangements help create friendlier atmosphere
Monitoring Make the best use of monitoring Ask different students to complete/answer/finish/…. If you can see a weaker student is able to give a correct answer, encourage them to do so
Some classroom ideas MA is not an easy problem to solve To talk to the class about the situation and present it as a normal situation This is probably best done in the mother tongue of the students Most of the solutions to the situation depend on cooperation - it is essential to stress the need for teamwork
Pair work A fundamental technique here is the use of questionnaires and interviews Pairing off weaker and stronger students; involving both in the preparation and implementation of the work Get the weaker students to interview the stronger ones and vice-versa If the stronger ones are able to see their role as that of “helper” it may also have a positive effect
Group work The students cooperate and learn from each other A strong student works with weaker students, the student can be a source of language/knowledge in the group Weaker and stronger students separated from each other, and groups given different tasks The stronger and quicker students work with more complicated tasks, whereas the weaker students deal with a simpler task
Extra homework Extra work should be of something that the students would enjoy doing Individual and team projects More enthusiastic to work in such projects if they can choose their own favourite topic (a poster on their favourite extreme sports, music, PC game)
Compulsory x optional All the class must do a certain minimal part of the task, the rest is optional Three tasks about a reading and make it clear that two must be done Give them five questions about a text and tell them that they must answer three.
Grading After reading or listening to a text – present your students with one of the following tasks: A question in the task: Where is the girl going at 6 o´clock? Different levels of difficulty in the answers Level 1:She is going to school. TRUE/FALSE Level 2: She is going to a) school b) a friend´s house. Level 3: She is going……………………………………………… ….
Fast finishers/ Help for the struggling Always have a set of tasks and games for fast finishers to do Offer less able students extra support (word banks – hidden answers, etc) Another option is to appoint “Buddies” (for peer tutoring).
Sources Moon, J. (2005) Children Learning English. Macmillan. Ur Penny, ( 1998) A Course in Language Teaching, CUP. Hess Natalie, (2001) Teaching Large Multilevel Classes, Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers. Tice Julie, (1997) The Mixed Ability Class, Richmond Publishing Kelly, A.V. 1978. Mixed Ability Grouping. London: Harper & Row Publishers. Prodromou, L. 1989. The mixed-ability class and the bad language learner. English Teaching Forum, 27/4, 2-8. Ur, P. 1996. A Course in Language Teaching: Theory and Practice. Great Britain: Cambridge University Press. The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. XI, No. 8, August 2005 http://iteslj.org/ http://iteslj.org/ http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Salli-Copur-MixedAbility.html SCRIVENER, Jim. Learning teaching: The Essential Guide to English Language Teaching. Macmillan Books for Teachers. ISBN 978-1-4050-1399-4.