Creative ideas for different ability Class

Teaching students who in the future will be expert in their particular fields is not an easy task. Therefore, teachers should be keen to identify methods and strategies that will facilitate this process and make it a success.

Since I started teaching English some ten years ago, it was my dream for my students to achieve proficiency in all four language learning skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. However, my long experience in this field made me realized that this is very difficult to achieve. The reason for this difficulty is that students vary in their abilities, aptitudes and capacities to understand. One usually finds students who are fast to understand, while others are in the middle and yet others are very slow to cope in class.

 In a situation like this, if a teacher deals with these students on the same level there will definitely be a vast disparity or inequality in students’ achievement. If we do not want to see an undesirable result like this, something needs to be done.

 In this regard, I think students for each grade  should be divided according to their proficiency level into three groups: beginners, intermediate and advanced levels. Then ,For each group we should design a special classroom having the same course book  and work book designed according to the level of students’ group and giving each one of theses groups a specific test designed especially for it.

 The aim of this is to allow students to learn and progress at their own pace based on their aptitudes, abilities and special needs. In the final analysis, we will see generalprogress and achievement rather than a success of just a cross-section of students. In case anyone has a strategy that will take in consideration the differences in abilities that may exist among students, I will be happy to receive his or her view point.

 Any comments will be recieved gratefully .

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Activating Vocabulary(‘Activity’ versus ‘Exercise’)

Last year I taught a course book which includes lessons called (Word Study). This provides phonetic help, grammatical function, part of speech and definition of the word. It also involves exercises at the end of the lesson which requires students to filling the gaps from a list of suggested answers. This year I used activities such as using visuals related to the selected words. I then asked my students to use these words in simple sentences. Some of them found it difficult at the initial stage but after interaction with other students, I noticed that they improved rapidly. I wish to discuss using vocabulary exercises and vocabulary activities so as to identify which one is more effective.

According Oxford University Press in an essay entitled “How activate vocabulary” the following differences between vocabulary exercises and vocabulary activities have been note:

“Vocabulary exercises tend to be controlled, testing the meaning and/ or form of items. They usually have a specific answer which is ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’, and they often perform the function of reinforcement.

Let’s compare this with vocabulary activities. This can be controlled or less controlled but the difference is that activities have a communicative goal as well as linguistic goal, and for this reason they require learners to interact with each other, giving opinions and sharing experiences”.

In conclusion, based on my experience with my students, I discovered that vocabulary activities proved to be more effective than exercises. Your opinion relating to this topic will be greatly appreciated.

Designing Course Books for Future Needs

For those preparing course materials for students learning English as a second language, careful deliberation should be taken to understand the special circumstance of the students. There are many obstacles in learning a foreign language; especially to those who start it late. In my country Saudi Arabia for instance, students start learning English at intermediate school, so mostly it is not easy for them to cope; except with special effort. In addition to this, in secondary school, students are divided into two areas of studies: Arts and Science. I am going to look at suitability of the English Course being taught to these students and suggest how it could be redesign to make it fulfill it real purpose.

 Problems of the Course Book

The division of students to Arts and Science is done based on their academic performance, consequently students with higher grades find themselves in science and those with lower grades go to arts. For the arts students their difficulty is apparent; as the course is not easy for them considering their low standard and also it is not meeting their special needs.

Moreover, science students have much serious problem as they will have to pursue medical or engineering course and the medium of teaching is English language. Since this English Course is not design to cater for their area of science, most of them often face problem of understanding in medical school.

 Solution  

Having studied the problem carefully, I am wondering if students are going to overcome it and make tremendous progress; there should be a redesigning of the English Course book to make it suitable to the needs of both the Arts and Science students. The reason for this is that at secondary level all other subjects are taught in Arabic and English language is taught only as a foreign language. So a newly designed course book might help students reach their learning goal. Do you have any other method to share with us that can assist student of EFL overcome their learning difficulties? Your ideas will be warmly welcome.

Teacher’s Attitude and Students’ Progress

The relationship between teachers and students can at times be very critical; as teachers’ attitude can impact students’ progress negatively or positively. In this regard, teachers should adopt an approach that will motivate students to progress rather than demotivate them. This article concerns two methods of approach that teachers mostly use and there corresponding consequences.

The Motivating Approach

Teachers who used this method are cognizant and appreciative of the smallest progress students make. They show recognition and appraisal for this so as to encourage the student to keep it up. When I was at school, I made a little progress in English literature; then my teacher recognized and appreciated my effort because of this, I consequently obtained excellent grades in this subject. Teachers who use this method do not overreact when students fall short but seek to find out what was the cause and address it. They observe the general progress of the class instead of only focusing on the small group who excel.

The Demotivating Approach

This is the situation wherein the teacher is very difficult to satisfy. Whatever improvement on the part of the students is not recognized or appreciated. Instead, they are searching for shortcomings in order to intimidate students. This attitude often cause backlash on the students as some of them might develop hatred for the subject as a result of the teacher’s attitude. This will definitely cause students to retrogress in their studies.

Therefore, as teachers we should adopt attitude that leads to students’ progress as opposed to one which will adversely affect them in their journey to success. Your contribution in relation to teacher’s attitude and students’ progress will be most welcome