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How to reach all the students

 
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Mindful



Joined: 13 Jul 2010
Posts: 10
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2010 8:33 am    Post subject: How to reach all the students Reply with quote

Hi all:) I'm a new ESL teaching with a class of 12 students. It's a beginner class, so technically the students are able to communicate in very simple sentences. The thing is some of my students are very strong speakers and listeners while some are stronger in reading and writing. Those who are better with reading and writing are very shy when it comes to speaking and have very limited vocabulary and comprehension. Those who are better speakers sometimes understand me really well even when I speak fast. They're not that accurate when they speak, but they have more fluency. When I see their writing though, it needs quite a bit of work. It's a tough class to teach for a beginner like me because of the vast differences.

How can I find a balance where I can reach all the students and address their needs? It's a part time class everyday for 3.5 hours. I guess I need help developing some sort of a program, a structure that enables me to deal with all students' needs. Also, if you could point me to any resources that offer advice on coming up with programs that suit various student needs, that'd be great.

Thanks!
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Sally Olsen



Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1311
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You have a classic class. People learn different ways and have different strengths. I always use groups and use the strengths of one student to help the others. I put a strong speaker and a strong writer in a group with two weaker ones and let them teach each other. The storng ones still learn because they have to explain what they say or write to the others which makes their learning deepen. It means developing group projects where everyone is participating in the project and everyone in the group is responsible to present the final project.

But I would go a little easy on the non-speakers and non-writers taking on the other roles of speaker and writer. Beginners classes are hard and you want them to continue so i wouldn't push their failings but encourage their strengths.

I always try to figure out some way to show each person they have progressed by lesson 8 or so - I usually tape them in lesson one or two, have a first writing sample to compare and so on. It doesn't have to be a "test" but adults really like to know they are progressing.

Recently I was reminded that adults like to learn a bit, reflect, connect it to what they know, reorganize and have a chance to decide what to do with the information so if we can plan our lessons with that in mind, it helps them learn. In practice, I get them to read something in groups to learn new vocabulary and perhaps something new to them in the real world as well, discuss, write, discuss, read and show what they learned in some fun way if possible using posters, film, newsletter, menu, whatever.
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Sheila Collins



Joined: 22 Oct 2007
Posts: 46

PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe try a little group work? Change the groups up frequently, though; try putting the same-level students together in a group one day, and then have mixed-level groups the next day. This gives the lower-level students a chance to work at their own level as well as learn from those who are more competent.
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Mindful



Joined: 13 Jul 2010
Posts: 10
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2010 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi there! Thanks for your replies! I tried using the strengths of one student to help the others. A strong student expressed frustration with being paired up with a much lower speaking students because the weaker student kept using a dictionary to translate every single word being spoken and took really long to understand what was going on. The stronger student explained things to him, which I believe was good for him, but he didn't think so. He thought it was very frustrating. What can I do in this case?

Thanks.
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Sally Olsen



Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1311
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2010 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would be tempted to keep those two apart in any future group work. Some people just don't get along. It sounds like your good student is not a natural teacher although may do better with another student. I would give that a try first and then if he/she continues to have difficulty, I would put him only with other good students. If you design projects they can do together, it doesn't matter what level they are because they can work to their level and you can adapt as you move around the room encouraging them. During presentations the other students will probably ask enough questions for them to get the idea of how to present so that all can understand. I am sure you will discover some other talent this non-teaching student possesses and be able to use his/her talent to help the rest.
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Rp



Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 50
Location: Canada

PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2010 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Mindful, are you doing LINC? And if so, do you think there is a level conflict within your session?

Sally has what I consider the right approach to your situation. I'm not sure if you are familiar with the work of Howard Gardiner and his Multiple Intelligence theories...in a nut we all have different strengths, try varying the learning tasks to incorporate music, art, physical movement, and such. What you may find is an "interest point" which will bring out your less vocal participants and even the class. One exercise I did in a similar situation was one on hobbies. We discussed hobbies and had, those who had them, discuss and demonstrate their hobbies. For those who didn't have one I had them learn, in groups, how to knit. I had the more experienced knitters teach the others. We made simple "baby caps" which we donated to the local hospital. It had a community aspect, learning of a physical skill, social interaction and a sharing of language. This may not work in your area but something along this line of thought might.

Keep fighting the good fight! Rp
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alawton



Joined: 27 Jul 2009
Posts: 45
Location: Austin, TX

PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 4:49 pm    Post subject: Mixed level class Reply with quote

Hello,

This is a common problem for ESL teachers. It seems to always work out that we get classes with students at different levels.

I would have my stronger students working with the weaker students when you do group activities. Students learn a lot from their peers. If the class is reading a passage the more advanced students could be focusing on the overall message while the beginners are focusing on the vocabulary words that you selected.

I don't think it is a bad thing to split the class up for part of the day. Have a lesson for the advanced students and a different one for the beginners. This is obviously more work, but it can be worth it. Good luck!

Andrew Lawton
http://drewseslfluencylessons.com
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