How can You deal with a mixed level class?

What is a mixed level class?

A class with different pupils in one or some of the following:

  • amount of time learning English
  • level of English in the class
  • motivation to study English
  • amount of support from parents
  • background (city or countryside)
  • age
  • gender (boys and girls)

 What difficulties can there be with mixed level classes? Some of these are:

  • Helping everyone to learn: how to help all levels learn
  • Keeping everyone’s attention
  • Getting everyone to take part
  • Lesson speed; may be too quick for some, too slow for others
  • Activities may be too easy for some too hard for others
  • Materials: may be interesting for some, boring for others
  • Assessment

How can You deal with these different needs? Think about the following:

  • Use open-ended activities: these can work well because children with different levels of language can do them.
  • Ask different-level questions: ask easier questions to those with less English, and harder questions to those with more English.
  • Correct only serious mistakes: be more tolerant of mistakes made by children with less English. Correct only their serious mistakes.
  • Give extra activities: have extra activities ready for children who finish an activity quickly. These activities might include new vocabulary to learn, pictures to talk about, or simple language games to play.  
  • Use pair and group work: sometimes children of different levels can help each other to learn when they work in pairs or groups.
  • Set flexible targets: give different targets to different children or groups for some activities. For example, you might ask one pair to write three sentences of more about their families, and a higher level pair to write five sentences or more.
  • Use a remember and tell strategy: After some activities, ask children to close their books and remember answers, questions, words or sentences from the activity, and tell each other in pairs or groups. Success depends less on language knowledge and more on cooperation.

A word about Young Learners

 

What are children like as learners?

They

– are developing quickly as individuals.

– learn in a variety of ways, for example, by watching, by listening, by imitating, by doing things.

– are not able to understand grammatical rules and explanations about language.

– try to make sense of situations by making use of non-verbal clues.

– talk in their mother tongue about what they understand and do – this helps them learn.

– can generally imitate the sounds they hear quite accurately and copy the way adults speak.

– are naturally curious.

– love to play and use their imagination.

– are comfortable with routines and enjoy repetition.

– have quite a short attention span and so need variety.

How can you as teacher help them?

– Make learning English enjoyable and fun – Remember you are influencing their attitude to language learning.

– Don’t worry about mistakes. Be encouraging. Make sure children feel comfortable, and not afraid to take part.

– Use a lot of gestures, actions, pictures to demonstrate what you mean.

– Talk a lot to them in English, especially about things they can see.

– Play games, sing songs, say rhymes and chants together.

– Tell simple stories in English, using pictures and acting with different voices.

– Don’t worry when they use their mother tongue. You can answer a mother tongue question in English, and sometimes recast in English what they say in their mother tongue.

– Constantly recycle new language but don’t be afraid to add new things or to use words they want to know.

– Plan lessons with varied activities, some quiet, some noisy, some sitting, some standing and moving.

Reference: English for Primary Teachers By Mary Slattery & Jane Willis

 

 

7 Steps to teach any activity effectively

1. Introduce the activity clearly.

2. Give pupils clear instructions and make sure they know what to do.

3. Model the activity with a good pupil.

4. Get two pupils to model the activity ( public pair )

5. Specify some time for completing the activity in pairs ( private pairs )

6. Move around to monitor pupils, listen to or look at their performance.

7. Get some pairs to do the activity in public or elicit the answers orally from pupils involving as many pupils as possible.

8 Steps to Get & Keep your Students’ Attention

1- Use a signal for Zero noise. e.g. if I clap once, I want you all keep silent.

2- Come closer to two students chatting and surprise them.

3- Give clear instructions for each activity telling students what to do exactly and checking that they understand the task.

4- Attract students’ attention when you make transitions during the lesson.

5- Monitor the entire room.

6- Change activity when you feel that they are bored.

7- Check your students’ comprehension frequently.

8- Keep silent for some moments until students pay full attention.

16 Tips to be # 1 Teacher

1. Learn your students’ names.

You will be able to control your class better and gain more respect if you learn the students’ names early on. If you are one who has a poor memory for names, ask each student to bring a photo of his own and write his name below it. Your students will be impressed when you call them with their names.

2. Establish authority from the beginning.

Establish a system for communication in the classroom from the first day. Deal quickly with inappropriate conduct in a friendly yet firm manner.

3. Be overly prepared.

You must be well mentally prepared for each lesson. You should know the sequences of activities and how long each activity will take. You should also have an additional activity prepared in case you have extra time.

4. Always consider the learners’ needs when preparing for each lesson.

Why are your students studying English? How will they use English in the future? What do they need to learn? The answer of these questions helps you specify what and how to teach and what to focus on.

5. Be prepared to make changes to your lesson plan.

If the lesson you have prepared isn’t working, don’t be afraid to modify it. Be sensitive to the students and the conditions around.

6. Find out what learners already know.

This is an ongoing process. Students may have already been taught a particular grammar point or vocabulary. Base your lesson on their prior knowledge and provide them with additional information that they don’t know.

7. Be knowledgeable about grammar.

You don’t have to be a linguist to teach EFL. Most of what you need to know can be learned from reading the students’ books. Often the rules and explanations about structure in the students’ books are much more accessible and realistic than in other books

8. Be knowledgeable about the learners’ culture.

The learners’ culture can be a valuable tool for teaching. Knowing it will raise your ability to communicate effectively with your students.

9. Don’t stick literally to the set book.

Add any extra necessary vocabulary, functions, grammar, or topics that you feel the students may want or need.

10. Don’t assume that the set book will always work.

Many activities must be modified to make them work, and some have to be changed completely to cope with the educational setting.

11. Teach vocabulary effectively.

The building blocks of language are not grammar and functions. The most essential thing students need to learn is vocabulary; without vocabulary you have no words to form sentences, no words to pronounce. Help your students to use the stock of vocabulary in their minds and learn more.

12. Proceed from more controlled activities to less controlled ones.

Not always, but in general, present and practice more structured activities before freer or more open ones.

13. Don’t neglect the teaching of listening.

Listening is the most important skill to teach your students. While listening to each other and to the teacher will improve their overall listening ability, this can be no substitute for listening to authentic English. As much as possible, try to expose your students to authentic English in a variety of situations. The best way to do this and the most realistic is through audios and videos. Videos are much more motivating and culturally loaded.

14. Turn regular activities into games or competition.

Many familiar teaching points can be turned into games or activities with a competitive angle. It is a sure way to motivate students and activate them to work on the language.

15. Motivate your students with variety.

By giving a variety of interesting topics and activities, students will be more motivated and interested, and they are likely to practice more.

16. Don’t leave the learners in the dark.

Explain exactly what they are expected to learn in a particular lesson. Make sure that students know what they are doing and why. Each task should be introduced so well that students know what to do exactly.

Some Techniques for Correcting Students’ Mistakes

1- You should interrupt learners when they make a mistake or error when:

* you want learners to be accurate concerning new structures.

* the majority of learners is constantly making the same error.

2- You can give delayed correction in the following situation:

* if the aim of the activity is fluency and communication. In this situation you can make a note of the errors and correct them later on.

3- Some errors should remain uncorrected by the teacher:

* in the middle of a group work or role play.

* when a shy learner is daring to communicate.

* if a learner is trying to express a complex or personal idea.

4- You correct learners in different ways according to the tasks given, for example:

* during fluency activities, errors should be totally ignored.

* if the aim is accuracy, you might correct mistakes more frequently.

5- You vary your correction strategies according to learners’ personalities by:

* correcting shy learners less and encouraging them to communicate.

* correcting stronger learners more, so they are challenged.

6- You help learners to self-correct or correct each other’s errors by:

* making a gesture, stopping learners, giving a question.

* indicating the nature of the error, by saying e.g., past tense.

* stressing the incorrect form.

* repeating the sentence with a questioning intonation.

* asking other learners for the correct form.

* asking one of the learners to write errors and correct them at the end of activity.

7- Some advantages of self-correction and peer correction are:

* you know how much learners know and what they do not know.

* learners feel more confident and independent.

* learners know where they are.

8- Some disadvantages of self-correction and peer correction are:

* some learners might feel superior to others.

* the same two or three learners might answer and dominate the class interactions.

* the one who is corrected might feel frustrated.

9- Some practical ways of correcting mistakes on written work are:

* underlining errors and asking learners to correct them using correction symbols.

* providing correct answers for learners correcting specific errors and leaving others.

* getting learners to exchange their copies for peer correction.

16 Recommendations for Preparing a Good Test

1- Determine the purpose of the test.

2- Define the content area to be tested.

3- Choose and prepare appropriate and relevant items for the test.

4- Build your questions to match your pupils’ ability.

5- The amount of questions should suit the allotted time.

6- Printing should be clear. No handwritten exams.

7- Instructions should be clear and in understandable terms.

8- Arrange items from easiest to most difficult to reduce stress and encourage less able pupils to answer ( Gradation of questions).

9- No ambiguous questions. Avoid ambiguity and deluding words.

10- Questions should include different parts of the syllabus and not focus on certain lessons.

11- Accurate grading is very important.

12- Model answers should be written on a separate sample of the test paper.

13- All acceptable or possible answers should be included or written in the model answers.

14- Test different aspects ( reasoning / observation / comprehending / deducing ).

15- Test cognitive, affective and psychomotor skills that are included in the units.

16- Involve varied questions ( objective / subjective ).

18 Tips to be an Effective Teacher of EL

How to be an effective English language teacher? Keep the following pieces of advice in your mind to realize your desire.

1. Be enthusiastic! Don’t do it just for the money.

Students appreciate the teacher who shows genuine interest in teaching. Teachers who are not, they should consider moving on to another profession.

2. Show interest in the students as individuals.

Treat students as individuals, not subjects. Don’t belittle them; listen and talk to them. Only in this way will true communication take place.

3. Allow time for free communication.

For speaking this would mean allowing time for free conversation, for writing; doing free writing, for reading; allowing time for extensive pleasure reading, and for listening; listening for entertainment sake.

4. Use humor to activate the class.

Make it a habit to get the students to laugh at least once per lesson.

5. Circulate.

Move around the classroom. Sit with groups and monitor, Take part in the communication. Walk about, listen and observe.

6. Make your instructions short and clear.

Demonstrate rather than explain whenever possible.

7. Speak up, but don’t break anyone’s eardrum.

You should be heard and comprehended without annoying students.

8. Don’t talk too much.

Depending on the subject, you should be talking from about 5% to 30% of the lesson. Most lessons should be student-centered, not teacher-centered.

9. Don’t talk too slow.

How do you expect your students to understand real English if you don’t speak at a fairly natural speed? Oversimplified and affected speech will hurt your students in the long run.

10. Be sensitive to your students.

Watch their faces and reactions. Do they understand you? Are they interested or bored? Try to be aware of what is going on in your classroom at all times. If you are starting class and one student is still talking, try to gently get him/her to stop. If you are sitting with a group of students on one side of the room, try to be attentive to what is happening in other groups as well. There may be a group across the room that is confused and doesn’t know what to do.

11. Respect both “slow” and “fast” learners.

Language learning is not about intelligence; the important thing to stress is that the students are improving.

12. Don’t lose your cool.

If you do, you will lose respect. Even if you have to leave the classroom, do it in a controlled manner, explaining to the class or students why you are unhappy with them.

13. Be frank.

Praise your students when they are getting better and encourage them when they are not doing as well as they can.

14. Be a coach.

Some times you must be a coach more than a teacher. Push the students to write those few extra lines, to get into their groups faster, to extend their conversations, ….. etc.

15. Be fair and realistic in testing.

Teach first and then test; don’t test things that haven’t been taught. Also, remember that the main purpose of language is communication.

16. Don’t overcorrect.

If you think a student can correct their own mistake, don’t supply the correction for them, rather allow for some self-monitoring. Remember, some mistakes can be kept uncorrected if you are for fluency.

17. Be reflective.

Think about your own teaching. After each lesson is over take some time to reflect. Was the lesson effective? What were the good and bad points? How could it be improved?

18. Keep in shape.

Renew and update your knowledge about teaching from time to another. Look at new course books and teacher training books to get new ideas. Share your ideas with colleagues. Go to conferences.

12 Characteristics of a Good Test

A good test should be:

1- Valid:

It means that it measures what it is supposed to measure. It tests what it ought to test. A good test which measures control of grammar should have no difficult lexical items.

2- Reliable:

If it is taken again by ( same students, same conditions ), the score will be almost the same regarding that the time between the test and the retest is of reasonable length. If it is given twice to same students under the same circumstances, it will produce almost the same results. In this case it is said that the test provides consistency in measuring the items being evaluated.

3- Practical:

It is easy to be conducted, easy to score without wasting too much time or effort.

4- Comprehensive:

It covers all the items that have been taught or studied. It includes items from different areas of the material assigned for the test so as to check accurately the amount of students’ knowledge

5- Relevant:

It measures reasonably well the achievement of the desired objectives.

6- Balanced:

It tests linguistic as well as communicative competence and it reflects the real command of the language. It tests also appropriateness and accuracy.

7- Appropriate in difficulty:

It is neither too hard nor too easy. Questions should be progressive in difficulty to reduce stress and tension

8- Clear:

Questions and instructions should be clear. Pupils should know what to do exactly.

9- Authentic:

The language of the test should reflect everyday discourse

10- Appropriate for time:

A good test should be appropriate in length for the allotted time.

11- Objective:

If it is marked by different teachers, the score will be the same. Marking process should not be affected by the teacher’s personality. Questions and answers are so clear and definite that the marker would give the students the score he/she deserves.

12- Economical:

It makes the best use of the teacher’s limited time for preparing and grading and it makes the best use of the pupil’s assigned time for answering all items. So, we can say that oral exams in classes of +30 students are not economical as it requires too much time and effort to be conducted.

Five main stages for a lesson plan

1- Setting objectives:

Write what you expect your students will do by the end of the lesson  e.g. by the end of the lesson, students will be able to ” pronounce, identify, put words in sentences, change into passive, compare, answer, use, match, …. etc ” or any verbs that can be observable and measurable in the classroom.

2- Warm up:  

Revise the previous lesson, check homework orally, correct common mistakes,  … etc or any other activity that can activate students and prepare them to receive the new material.

3- Presentation:

Present the new material using the suitable techniques, write the procedures that you will follow to explain the new material.

4- Practice:

It is the work done by the students whether it is controlled, guided, or free. Students answer some exercises based on the material presented. These exercises are often there on the set book.

5- Assessment:

Write some sentences on the board or distribute printed papers to see whether the objectives were achieved or not and to check whether students learned or not according to the objectives. If not, you should reteach the lesson using different techniques.

1 8 9 10 11