Fostering Reading Comprehension

One of the most complex mental activities we can engage in is reading. When you look at brain scans taken while the subjects are reading you see many of the areas of the brain lit up with activity. As we read we are simultaneously using our knowledge of sound segments (phonemes)  and the connection between sound and letters (phonics) to make meaning of the text (reading comprehension). This last element is the most important and most challenging to develop. Parents and teachers need to explicitly teach reading comprehension skills while at the same time encouraging young readers to keep practicing and honing their skills.

Explicit and Varied Teaching

Because reading comprehension is challenging and multifaceted it must be explicitly taught. Most readers do not infer how to make meaning of texts. They need to be instructed in a variety of strategies for understanding what they are reading. In addition, young readers need to be taught and given opportunities to practice reading comprehension using a variety of texts in a variety of different settings. This is one of the reasons why the partnership between parents and teachers is so important. In the classroom, teachers should work with children as a whole class, in guided reading groups and one-on-one to foster reading comprehension skills. At home, parents can help reinforce and strengthen what their children are learning at school by modeling “real-life” reading (newspapers, Internet, reading books for pleasure) as well as reading with and to their children.

Reading Comprehension Strategies

In order to foster a child’s comprehension of the many types of texts she will encounter, parents and teachers need to equip her with a whole “toolbox” of reading strategies to draw from as needed. While there is an almost infinite number of strategies that we employ as adult readers a core set of reading comprehension strategies provides the foundation for all readers. These are the strategies that adults should explicitly teach young readers to help promote their reading comprehension abilities.

Questioning

Whether we realize it or not we are constantly asking and answering questions as we read. To foster this behavior in young readers, parents and teachers should model good questioning by asking guiding questions before, during and after children read a text. Before reading questions parents and teachers can ask children to make predictions or activate prior knowledge that will help them comprehend the text. While the child is reading, adults should ask questions to check comprehension as well as to guide understanding. After the child has completed the text we should again ask questions to check for comprehension and to clear up misunderstandings. Adults can foster deeper comprehension and retention by following up basic comprehension “check” questions with those aimed at having children make personal connections with texts as well as analyzing events and characters in the story. Children should also be encouraged to generate and answer their own questions about texts to develop independent questioning skills.

Vocabulary Instruction

Understanding the vocabulary used in a piece of writing is essential to reading comprehension. There are a number of strategies that parents and teachers can teach young readers to help them comprehend new vocabulary. Unfamiliar words can be taught prior to reading the text. This can be formal (a lesson on the definitions of words) or informal (a parent mentioning a new word and its meaning before the child reads). Vocabulary can also be taught as it is encountered in the text. When a child comes to a word that he seems to be struggling with the adult working with him can provide the meaning. This practice works best when working one-on-one with a child. Beyond this, adults can help children develop skills for “conquering” new words independently as they are reading. Teaching children to use context clues (hints about the meaning of an unfamiliar word provided in the sentence or paragraph where it is used) is one of the best ways to help foster independent vocabulary discovery. Also, children can be taught common roots, prefixes and suffixes that they can use to help understand new vocabulary used in a text.

Monitoring

Good readers constantly monitor their comprehension. They check to make sure they are understanding what they are reading and if they do not, they adjust their approach to the text to ensure comprehension. Young readers often do not realize that they need to regularly “check in” with themselves while they are reading. Therefore, it is incumbent upon adults to help them develop these important self-monitoring skills. Prior to reading, parents and teachers should help children activate prior knowledge about the story’s content, choose appropriate reading strategies and understand the reading task. While the child is reading, we can help her reading comprehension by checking for understanding through questioning and encouraging her to use text structure and other strategies to understand the text. Over time children will internalize these monitoring strategies and will be able to practice them independently.

Summarizing

When we read we rarely sit down and formally create a summary of what we’ve read. Still, our minds store a synopsis of the key ideas in a text. Young readers need to be taught how to summarize what they have read to encourage their comprehension and retention. When a reader is able to restate what he has read in his own words he has truly understood it. Parents and teachers can foster this practice by asking children to summarize what they have read during and after they have read a particular text.

Focus and Attention

Reading comprehension cannot occur when the “flow” of reading is repeatedly interrupted. Think about how difficult it is to remember what you have read when sights and sounds prevent you from focusing your attention on a text. Young readers rarely realize the importance of focus and attention in reading. Parents and teachers can help foster good focus and attention by teaching children to eliminate distractions while they are reading. One way to do this is to encourage them to use an index card or a finger to track the words on the page as they are reading. Also, adults can teach children to take periodic breaks from reading to summarize what they have read.

The Role of Motivation in Fostering Reading Comprehension

While building a full “toolkit” of reading strategies is an important element in fostering a reader’s comprehension and retention, it is not the only factor influencing reading development. As with almost any task the learner must be motivated in order to be successful. Parents and teachers can help foster reading comprehension by encouraging their children’s motivation to read. The easiest way to do this is to model enthusiasm for reading. If the adults around them are excited about their own reading as well as the child’s, she is more likely to also become enthusiastic about reading. In addition, adults can talk with children about the importance of reading highlighting what reading has to offer them (i.e. pleasure, information). Beyond this, adults can motivate young readers by helping them pick texts that “speak” to them. Tapping into a child’s personal interests or encouraging them to continue exploring books by a particular author can help sustain a young person’s interest in reading. Along with this, adults should help children pick texts that are “doable”. The reading level of a new story or book should be at or slightly above the child’s independent reading level. When children experience success at reading, they are more likely to continue reading. And when they continue reading their reading comprehension skills will become stronger and stronger.

The Relationship Between Reading and Writing

For many years reading and writing were (and sometimes still are) taught separately. Though the two have almost always been taught by the same person (the English/Language Arts teacher) during the Language Arts period or block, educators rarely made explicit connections between the two for their students. Over the last ten years research has shown that reading and writing are more interdependent than we thought. The relationship between reading and writing is a bit like that of the chicken and egg. Which came first is not as important as the fact that without one the other cannot exist. A child’s literacy development is dependent on this interconnection between reading and writing.

Basically put: reading affects writing and writing affects reading. According to recommendations from the major English/Language Arts professional organizations, reading instruction is most effective when intertwined with writing instruction and vice versa. Research has found that when children read extensively they become better writers. Reading a variety of genres helps children learn text structures and language that they can then transfer to their own writing. In addition, reading provides young people with prior knowledge that they can use in their stories. One of the primary reasons that we read is to learn. Especially while we are still in school, a major portion of what we know comes from the texts we read. Since writing is the act of transmitting knowledge in print, we must have information to share before we can write it. Therefore reading plays a major role in writing.

At the same time practice in writing helps children build their reading skills. This is especially true for younger children who are working to develop phonemic awareness and phonics skills. Phonemic awareness (the understanding that words are developed from sound “chunks”) develops as children read and write new words. Similarly, phonics skills or the ability to link sounds together to construct words are reinforced when children read and write the same words. For older children practice in the process of writing their own texts helps them analyze the pieces that they read. They can apply their knowledge about the ways that they chose to use particular language, text structure or content to better understand a professional author’s construction of his or her texts.

Harnessing the Reading-Writing Relationship to Help Children Learn

Simply knowing that reading and writing are intimately connected processes isn’t enough. In order to help children develop these two essential skills, parents and teachers need to apply this knowledge when working with them. Here are a few strategies for using reading and writing to reinforce development of literacy skills.

Genre Study

One of the most effective ways to use the relationship between reading and writing to foster literacy development is by immersing children in a specific genre. Parents and teachers should identify a genre that is essential to a grade level’s curriculum or is of particular interest to a child or group of children. They should then study this genre with the child(ren) from the reading and writing perspectives. Children should read and discuss with adults high quality examples of works written in the genre focusing on its structure and language as well as other basic reading skills including phonics and comprehension. Once children have studied the genre to identify its essential elements, they should be given opportunities to write in the genre. As they are writing, adults should help them apply what they have learned from reading genre specific texts to guide their composition. This process should be recursive to allow children to repeatedly move between reading and writing in the genre. In the end children will not only have a solid and rich knowledge of the genre, but will also have strengthened their general reading and writing skills.

Reading to Develop Specific Writing Skills

Parents and teachers do not have to engage in an extensive genre study to foster their children’s reading and writing abilities. Texts can be used on limited basis to help children learn and strengthen specific writing skills. Parents and teachers should first identify writing skills that a particular child or group of children need support in developing. For example, many students in a seventh grade class might have difficulty writing attention getting introductions in their essays. One of the most effective ways to help children build specific writing skills is to show and discuss with them models that successfully demonstrate the skill. Adults should select a number of texts where the authors “nail” the area that they want to help their children grow in. For our sample seventh graders we’d want to find several pieces of writing with strong, engaging introductions and read and analyze these with the students. Once children have explored effective models of the skill, they should be given opportunities to practice it. They can either write new pieces or revise previous pieces of writing emulating the authors’ techniques.

Integrating “Sound” Instruction in Reading and Writing

Phonemic awareness and phonics are two of the pillars of reading. Without understanding the connection between sounds and letters, a person cannot read. The connection between reading and writing can help solidify these skills in young readers. Parents and teachers should help children “sound out” words in both their reading and writing. When a child comes to a word in their reading that is unfamiliar, the adult(s) working with her can model or guide her in sounding out the word using knowledge of phonemes (sound “chunks”). Similarly, if a child wants to write a new word the adult(s) can use the same technique to help her choose which letters to write. If the child is younger, accurate spelling is not as important as an understanding of the connection between particular sounds and letters. Therefore helping the child pick letters that approximate the spelling is more appropriate than providing him with the actual spelling. If the child is older and has an understanding of some of the unique variations in the English language (such as silent “e”), the parent or teacher should encourage him to use that knowledge to come up with the spelling of the word.

Choice in Reading and Writing

Another effective method for using the relationship between reading and writing to foster literacy development is simply giving children the choice in their reading and writing experiences. We learn best when we are motivated. If children are always told exactly what to read and what to write, they will eventually either come to see reading and writing as impersonal events or will “shut down”. Often in classrooms, teachers allow children to select their own books to read during independent reading time, but they rarely give them the opportunity to pick their own writing topics. In order to encourage ownership over their reading and writing, children should be given chances to read and write what is interesting and important to them.

Talk About It!

While it may seem like common sense to adults that reading and writing have a lot to do with each other, the connection is not always as apparent to young people. Parents and teachers should explain how the two skills reinforce and strengthen each other. Young people (especially adolescents) often ask their parents and teachers, “Why do I have to learn this?” Here is a perfect opportunity to show the relationship between two essential academic and life skills.

Methodology and Teaching (DART)

Interacting with texts – Directed activities related to texts (DARTs)
Cheron Verster, teacher trainer and materials writer, South Africa
Good readers use what they know about language and the world to interact with what they are reading. This helps them create meaning from the words on the page. Classroom activities that encourage interaction with texts, like directed activities related to texts (DARTs), improve students’ reading comprehension.
What are directed activities related to texts (DARTs)?
DARTs are activities which get students to interact with texts. Their aim is to improve students’ reading comprehension and to make them critical readers. They can be done by individual students or in groups
What type of activities can you use in DARTs?
DARTs can be divided into two groups: reconstruction activities and analysis activities:

What type of texts can you use in DARTs?
You can base a DART on traditional language texts like poems and extracts from short stories, novels and plays. You can also base them on extracts from magazines, newspapers, pamphlets etc, and passages from history, geography, science etc textbooks.
What are the advantages of using DARTs?

  • When students interact with texts, their reading comprehension improves.
  • They also become more aware of how texts are constructed.
  • This makes them more critical of texts. They begin to ask questions about the information that has been included in, and excluded from, the text.
  • And about the words and sentence constructions that the writer chose.
  • As students’ understanding of how text is constructed improves, so too does their own writing.
  • Research has shown that interacting with texts also improves students’ cognitive development.
  • You don’t need fancy equipment and resources to use DARTs. You can use textbooks from various subjects. Therefore, DARTs can be used in under-resourced schools.
  • DARTs can make your students’ textbooks more interesting.
  • If you teach English is a context where English is the medium of instruction but it is not the students’ first language, using DARTs based on passages from the students’ textbooks will help prepare them for the texts they will encounter in other subjects.
  • It will also help prepare them for the types of tasks they will encounter in other subjects. For example, filling in tables, labeling diagrams, completing Venn diagrams etc.
  • DARTs also help students learn how to use texts without plagiarizing them.

And they help students learn how to produce their own graphic information like tables, flow charts, branch diagrams etc.

How can you develop your own DART?
Here is one method you could use:

  • Once you have chosen the text, read it carefully. As you read, interact with the text. For example, underline or circle important information, write questions which you think the text raises or doesn’t answer, list the main ideas and the supporting detail, draw a table or a diagram etc.
  • Take note of how you interacted with the text. Did the text lend itself to a particular type of interaction. For example, it is often quite natural to develop a graphic organizer when we are reading and interacting with some types of texts. So…
     
 
  If the text    
 
 
  you may have developed    
 
 
  compared and contrasted two or more things    
 
 
  a table or Venn diagram    
 
 
  described a process    
 
 
  a flow chart.    
 
 
  described a fictional or non-fictional sequence of events    
 
 
  a flow chart.    
 
 
  described how something can be classified    
 
 
  a branch diagram.    
 
 
  described an object    
 
 
  a labeled diagram.    
 
 
  presented an argument    
 
 
  a spider diagram or mind map.    
 
 
   

Decide whether you want your students to do a reconstruction activity or an analysis activity.

  • Use how you interacted with the text as a basis for your DART.
    • For example, if you developed a flow chart while reading the text and you want your students to do a reconstruction activity, develop a relevant flow chart and then delete some of the information from the chart. Your students must fill in the missing information as they read. Write the instructions for the task.
    • Or, if you developed a flow chart while reading the text and you want your students to do an analysis activity, write the instructions that will help them construct their own flow chart. There might be several steps in this activity. Firstly, you might ask your students to underline the steps in the process that is being described. Then you might ask them to draw a flow chart and fill this information in to it.

Teaching small classes

Most teachers would agree that teaching a small class comes with many benefits. Teachers can offer one-on-one assistance at times and are more likely to meet the individual needs of their students. Some teachers, however, find it quite challenging to keep their students interested and excited about learning in a small class. Depending on the location you are teaching in, small classes range from about three to seven students. In countries where large classes are the norm, classes of twenty may still be considered small. There are numerous coping strategies and activities that teachers can use to deal with the challenges of timing and student engagement.

Advantages of Teaching Small Classes

Comfort: Teachers and students often feel more comfortable when the class size is smaller. Students generally feel more comfortable voicing their questions and opinions.

Students’ needs met: Teachers can design customized lessons to meet the needs and interests of all of the class members.

Student centred: Teaching is student centred and often more communicative than is possible in large classes. Students also have more opportunity to speak.

Space: Students have plenty of space to move around in the classroom. Teachers can also arrange excursions (or suggest spontaneous ones) outside of the classroom where students can be exposed to real world English.

Attendance: Class attendance is usually high because students know they will be missed if they are absent. They also feel like they belong to the group.

Tasks Completed: Assignments and homework are more likely to be completed because the teacher is more likely to check.

Preparation time: Less preparation time is required for photocopying. There are generally enough textbooks to go around so photocopying is limited to extra activities.

Detailed Feedback: Teachers have time to provide detailed feedback when marking assignments and tests, so students get a better sense of how they are improving and where they need to work harder. Teachers also have more time to answer questions before, during, and after class

Challenges of Teaching Small Classes

Timing: Activities finish quickly, so teachers may need to prepare more lessons and games.

Distractions: Pairs can get distracted easily since they can hear what each other are saying.

Attendance: If a few students do miss a class, planned lessons can occasionally flop. For example, you may plan a lesson that requires pair work, and then find that only three of your six students come to class.

Fillers: Teachers must always have plenty of fillers on hand for times when lessons or activities get completed quickly.

Boredom: Students may become bored working with the same pairs or groupings all of the time. There may also be less energy in the room in a small class.

Anxiety: While you will likely feel more comfortable teaching in a small class, shy students who are used to blending into a large class may be uncomfortable participating. You will have to take special measures to help them gain confidence.

Activities not always suitable: Some activities in textbooks, such as debates or role-playing, may not be possible if a class is very small. You will have to spend some preparation time adapting textbook activities.

Strategies for Coping with Small Classes

Fillers: Always have plenty of fillers (such as puzzles and games) ready in case activities finish quickly. Keep a list of games or warm ups on hand to use when energy gets low. Some may need to be adapted slightly if the class is very small.

Review often: Take the time to make sure that your students understand the lessons and material.

Encourage confidence: Help shy students to feel more comfortable by trying not to put them on the spot. Let them get comfortable with you and their classmates before you start calling on them to speak up more. Remember to praise them often and save criticism for private interviews.

Change the dynamics: Invite students from other classes in once in a while. Prearrange pair group and getting to know you activities with other teachers who have small classes. If you have high level students pair them with lower level students and give them the opportunity to teach.

Ask for feedback: Take time to find out whether or not students are happy with the class. Ask for suggestions regarding activities they want to do or skills they would like to improve. Put a question box or envelope out so that students can remain anonymous if they want to.

Teaching large classes

Most teachers agree that teaching a small group of students is easier, more enjoyable, and less time consuming than teaching a large group. Unfortunately, due to budgets, space, or lack of teachers, many ESL schools only offer large classes. In some schools, large classes may consist of up to 50 or more students. While your class may look more like a University lecture hall, your job is not to lecture. Just like teaching a small class, you must come up with engaging activities that keep all of your students interested and participating with the goal of improving their communication skills. While there are numerous challenges when it comes to teaching large classes, there are many coping skills and activities that you can use to make your job easier.

Advantages of Teaching Large Classes

High Energy: Classes with many students may be noisy, but they are also fun and exciting.

Timing: Classes go by quickly in a large class, and you will rarely catch yourself looking at the clock. You will regularly find yourself with extra activities that you did not complete that you can save and use in your next class.

Participation: There is always someone who is willing to answer questions even if they are just guessing. Make sure to take answers from a variety of students.

Fillers: Teachers have less need for fillers since core activities and lessons take longer to complete.

Challenges of Teaching Large Classes

Intimacy: Remembering student’s names can take a while. Teachers may feel that they do not get to know their students as well as they would like to.

Anxiety: Some teachers feel anxious being so outnumbered by the students. In addition, some students are afraid to ask questions or participate in a large class.

Student needs: Meeting individual needs can be difficult or impossible when class size is very large.

Marking: Grading assignments and tests can be very time consuming, and your pay will generally be the same for a smaller class.

Distractions: There are more distractions for teachers in large classes, such as latecomers and people chatting while you are teaching.

Preparation: Making photocopies for a large class can be very time consuming. Other teachers may be bothered by how much time you spend using the photocopier.

Noise level: Large classes can become out of hand when students are working in pairs or groups. At times you may feel more like a disciplinarian than a teacher.
Monitoring students: Teachers may find it difficult to keep students on task as they monitor pair and group work.

Space: There is limited space in a classroom for energetic activities such as role-playing.

Textbooks and resources: There may not be enough textbooks or computers available for all students.

Strategies for Coping with Large Classes

Use a teacher’s notebook: Attach a small notebook and pen to your belt loop. Take notes while you are monitoring pair or group learning. Review common errors as a whole group after an activity is complete.

Spread out: Find another space that your class can use for energetic whole group activities. Find a lobby or spare classroom in the building that your students can spread out into when they are preparing a project or performance. Take students outside if there is no indoor space available.

Create a participation grade: Make homework and attendance count by doing regular checks and making it part of their final grade. Giving a daily exam tip also encourages attendance.

Encourage competition: Establish a fun and competitive atmosphere within the class, by dividing the class into teams. You may change the teams once in a while or leave them the same throughout a semester. Teams can win points for certain accomplishments (If noise and behaviour is a problem, students can lose points too.).

Relax: Find ways to relax before class so that you don’t feel anxious. Never attempt to prepare a lesson in the morning, right before class. Always have a water bottle handy. Always have an extra activity on hand in case something doesn’t go as you expect it to.

Establish trust: Learn unique ways to remember names and do your best to get to know something about each of your students. Create a seating chart on the first day and ask students to stick with it for a while. Tell your students at least one or two things about yourself beyond your role of teaching.

Manage the noise: Establish a signal that you want your class to stop what they are doing and listen. This should be done from the first day, so that students become accustomed to it right away. Be careful not to use gestures or sounds that would offend anyone.

Reduce marking and preparation time: Design quizzes and tests in a way so that you can reduce the amount of marking. Use peer evaluations when possible. If students submit journals, just read them and leave a short comment and/or suggestion, rather than fixing every grammar mistake. Designate a specific time when the teacher’s room is slow to do most of your photocopying for the week. This will save you from feeling guilty for taking up the photocopier for a long time when another teacher only has a few copies to make.

Enforce a late policy: Notify students of your late policy on the first day and stick to it. For example, don’t let students enter your classroom after a warm-up has ended. If students miss class, make it their responsibility to catch up, not yours.

Share your e-mail address: In a large class, you will find yourself feeling drained before and after class if you let students come early or stay late to ask questions every day. This alone can make you hate your job, especially if you are not paid for hours when you are not teaching. Encourage students to e-mail you with questions, and answer them on your own time. If you don’t like the e-mail suggestion, try finishing your class ten minutes early once in a while and allow your students free conversation time. Take questions on a first come basis during this time.

Activities to use in Large Classes

Small group discussions: Use topics related to a theme, or ask students to submit topic suggestions.

Who Am I?: Tape the name of a famous person to the back of each student. Students go around the room asking questions and trying to identify themselves. Once they guess who they are they can place their nametag on the front and continue helping other students identify themselves.

Team spelling contests: Each student who gets the spelling correct gets a point for their team.

Balderdash: Large class can be split into teams. Teacher calls out a word and students have to write down the part of speech and definition. Each student to get both correct gets a point for her team.

Write the question: Large class can be split into teams. The teacher calls out an answer and the students have to write the question. (ex. “Lynn”) Each student to write the correct question gets a point. (ex. answer: What’s your middle name?”)

Questionnaires: Students circulate around the room asking each other questions. Students can create their own questions on a given topic or theme, or you can provide the questionnaire handout. Follow up by asking each student to report the most interesting answer they received.

Categories: The teacher calls out a category, such as fruit, and each student has to name a fruit when it is his turn. If a student hesitates for more than five seconds, he or she has to choose a new category and sit out the rest of the game. The last person to get out wins.

teaching mixed ability classes 2

Gareth Rees, teacher/teacher trainer, London Metropolitan University, UK

You may often be teaching a class which has students who are clearly of different levels. They may have different starting levels of English or they may learn at very different speeds – for any number of reasons. There are several strategies that a teacher can use to deal with this situation. This is the second of two articles on the topic.

The first article deals with…

Discussion and needs analysis

Student self awareness

Work groupings

This second article deals with the following strategies.

* Range of tasks

* Extra work / Homework

* Student nomination

* Error correction

* Conclusion

Range of tasks

This involves creating or providing different tasks for different levels.

For example, the number of comprehension questions for a text. You might have two sets of questions, A and B. Perhaps all students have to complete set A, the stronger ones also have to complete set B. Or, they even have an extra reading text.

This obviously increases the amount of lesson preparation. However, it is possible to think of fairly simple extra tasks. For example, during a reading lesson, the stronger students have to do detailed dictionary work on vocabulary in the text. It takes very little time to select words for the students to research. With the stronger students spending 10 minutes working with dictionaries, you have time to monitor and help the weaker ones with the text. Then you can go through the shared comprehension tasks as a class, and perhaps the stronger students can make a presentation about the words they have researched.

Extra work / homework

It is straightforward to give different students different homework – unless it is part of a standardised assessment procedure. Give weaker students homework which really does consolidate the class work, and give the stronger students work that will widen their knowledge or put it to the test a little more. When teaching mixed ability classes, the weaker students will be missing things during the lesson, or failing to understand. Use homework to address this. The stronger students may feel held back during the class, so homework can now really push them (if they are so inclined!)

Writing tasks are great for homework, as a productive skill that can be performed individually. You can expect more from the stronger students, and use it as a way to identify their weaknesses, which may not be so apparent during the class.

Student nomination

This is a simple classroom management technique that really helps in the mixed ability class.

When asking for answers to questions, ask particular students, rather than asking the class in a open fashion e.g. ‘What’s the answer to number 9?’ is an open question, whereas ‘What’s the answer to number nine, Maria?’ is a nominated question. If you ask open questions, the same old strong students will provide the answers. This creates a poor dynamic to the class, for many reasons.

When nominating…

* Ask the question before you give the name of the student. That way, everyone has to listen

* Consider how easy it is for the student to answer. If a weak student will struggle, perhaps ask a stronger student. If a weak student should be capable, then ask them.

* Avoid making students seem foolish, and yet also avoid patronising them by only asking super simple questions

* Nominate with variety. Be careful to avoid nominating the same selection of students. In a large class, I keep a note of the students I have asked over a lesson, just to make sure I haven’t developed a pattern.

Error correction

In a mixed level class you can have different expectations of the language the different students produce. Sometimes, it can push stronger students if you correct them heavily – although you should be sensitive about this. And for weaker students, be more selective in your error correction.

To conclude

The key strategies for teaching mixed level classes are probably developing a positive and collaborative working atmosphere and providing a variety of work suitable for different levels. It probably doesn’t work to stick your head in the sand and pretend the class is all of one homogenous level, a situation which doesn’t exist anywhere.