In continuing our ESL program this summer, I have been researching ways to appropriately teach a mixed-level class, so that each learner is able to work towards their specific goals.
I came across the literacy resource webpage and blog called Heads Up English, where they reviewed ways on troubleshooting this type of classroom. Here is are some tips of advice that I received from their blog post:
1. You should teach to the intended level of the class. If the class is geared or advertised towards one specific level, then material and lesson plans should be targeted similarly. If there is still a variety of levels there, one solution that Heads Up English suggests is to have a set themed lesson plan for the class time but offering students a variation based on their literacy level. That way, it is easy for the teacher to meet the learners’ needs without exceeding his or her time on preparing the class.
2. A Word about Pairs and Groups. In having a mixed-level classroom, my first thought was to separate the learners in order for them to work more closely on their appropriate literacy level. However, Heads Up English offers how combining different literacy level learners together will help advance both.
- For beginning learners, it would make the “mastery of the language [feel] more tangible, because its’ a peer who possesses the improved ability/skill.”
- For more advanced learners, it will allow them to help teach which will allow an experience for “monitoring for mistakes, offering advice, and even providing brief explanations on grammar, vocabulary, or other points.”
In suggesting this, Heads Up English advices to use this only for a portion of the class, pairing it still with large group and individual work.
Overall, these points will be of use when encountering a large number of mixed-level learners. I am eager to incorporate these tips into my next class in hopes to better use my time and advance the skills of the learners!