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.

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.

1 2