Thursday, 15 October 2015

Using Differentiated Instruction in Mixed Level TEFL Classes

Differentiated instruction has become popular amongst teachers. Ron recently wrote about it a few months ago in his post, the start of a new semester and differentiated instruction. TEFL courses also cover it. Check out the CCELT (100 hours) and the University of Toronto. Teachers may struggle in mixed level classes because they know that it can be hard to cater to all the different levels. While convention may tell the teacher to teach to the average level, they know that some students are being left behind and others are bored with the lesson. This does nothing for student motivation.

Differentiated instruction can change that. There are many ways that you can use this in your classroom. It will allow all students to progress and better their English. Have a variety of different assignments. After teaching a lesson, students need to practice what they have learnt. You could have different exercises available to them. Lower students could do multiple choice and higher students could do fill in the blanks.

Offer students choices for homework: Just as you would do in class, allow them to choose which homework assignments they’d like to do. Go online: Tell students about websites that they can use to practice their English. Your textbook might have options as well. They often have online quizzes and listenings that are interactive and appeal to learners.

Meet with students: Have quick progress meetings with your students. It will help them achieve their goals, give you feedback on class, and ask you questions. Some students may not want to meet with you one-to-one so give them the option of meeting in a small group.

Pair strong and weak students: It’s a win-win situation. The stronger student solidifies what they have learnt by explaining the concept to the weaker student. The weaker student gets to have the concept explained in a different way. Often students are better at explaining things than teachers.

Try TBL (task-based learning): By using English for authentic tasks students see how English can make a difference in their lives and students can be assigned roles based on their English abilities.

Try flipping the classroom: Studies have shown that flipped classrooms allow for more learning and less time wasting. It’s more student-centered and there’s less grading involved. Students and teachers enjoy flipped classrooms as well.

As you can see there are many options for using differentiated instructions in mixed level classes. Try some out and see how it goes!

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