One suggestion I’ll give is to change your expectations. Expect and accept that there will be varied ability in every class of language learners. After all, we work with infinitely variable human beings. Let me share an idea from Mario Rinvolucri (1986) “…we do not teach a group but thirty separate people. Because of this, the problem of mixed abilities in the same room seems absolutely natural, and it is the idea of teaching a unitary lesson that seems odd.”
Once you have embraced the idea of diversity, here are some ideas to consider.
• Plan different activities for different students.
• Design group tasks and assign people with mixed abilities to each group.
• Design open-ended group tasks and assist groups that need more support.
Let’s admit that these techniques are more challenging for the instructor than teaching a unitary lesson, but they are often more effective for our students. You can address individual needs – Full speed ahead!
Rinvolucri, M. (1986) Strategies for a mixed-ability group. Practical English Teaching, 7 (1).
This post was written by Laura Greenwood.