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Teaching Mixed Level Classes

June on the TEFL Times has been set aside for a series of articles from Sharon K Couzens de Hinojosa, the creator and writer for TEFL Tips.

Although many teachers dread teaching mixed level classes, there are ways to make teaching these classes easier.

● Pair weaker students with stronger students. Both students benefit in this situation. Stronger students solidify their knowledge of English because they have to explain things to the weaker students. And weaker students benefit because they get things explained to them in different ways.

● Call on everyone. Sure, the stronger students will be more likely to volunteer, but give the weakers students a chance to participate as well.

● Keep silent. By keeping silent after asking questions, you’ll give the weaker students a chance to put together their answer. The stronger students will also get a chance to double check theirs.

● Projects. Have students do a project or two where they have to work in groups. Not only will they get the chance to meet other people, but they will also learn valuable group working skills.

● Routines. They make students comfortable and will lessen the need for explanations. If students know that they do listening, followed by pair work, etc, they will automatically be prepared for what they have to do.

● Have sequential material. Have different questions according to the level so that all students can feel challenged. For example, after a reading, you could have three different sections of comprehension questions according to the levels in the class.

● Give students choices. Offer students a choice whether for homework or projects. By giving students choices, they take responsibility for their learning and can choose the activity that will challenge them the most.

● Use students to help. Students can pass out papers and even help explain exercises and grammar to their peers.

● Create activity corners. Think of a couple of activities that students can do on their own or with a small group. Put these activities in different places around the room. Students are free to move around as they finish an activity. You could have listening in one corner, a speaking exercise in the net, a problem solving one in another, or possibly a game at the front of the room and a song in the back. The options are limitless.

● Divide the class. When presenting a new topic, some students will have already seen it before. So after presenting it quickly, send those who know it to the back to work on exercises. And those who don’t know, you can give a more detailed presentation.

About the author

Sharon K Couzens de Hinojosa is the creator and writer for TEFL Tips, The LA Job List, and The Ultimate Peru List. She enjoys answering people’s questions about TEFLing and Peru.

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