Teaching in a Multilevel Classroom

As teachers, we are continually trying to achieve the best results with our students on the matter of improving their four skills in the second or foreign language. Thus, a right way of doing it is to get closer to your students and understand what their goals are, and why they decided to learn a second/foreign language. The teacher must realize a classroom is composed of an array of minds with different personalities, and each one of them has a particular way of learning. So, the teacher has a unique style to teach. Comprehending it, allows you to understand that students will respond differently towards the activities you come up with, and this will be one of the first steps to succeed, or at least have fewer issues in teaching a multilevel class.

We commonly see English learning centers dividing students based on the level they are: beginner, elementary, intermediate, pre-advanced and advanced. Even us are used to follow such a model. Regardless of the proficiency level, each student will show more skills in reading, another will be good at grammar, and the other will be good at speaking and pronunciation, and so on. Here, we have the challenge which characterizes a multilevel classroom, and here is the difficulty most teachers have out there, mainly the novice ones: how to work appropriately at a school like that and be able to meet all the students’ needs. Therefore, I would like to discuss strategies most experienced teachers use which can address such discrepancies.

The first step is breaking the barrier between the teacher and the students. Consider the first day as the one to map your classroom, meet the students and encourage them to speak and interact with you and their classmates. By doing this, you create a more welcoming environment which will provide your class with confidence to talk and respect you.

Secondly, be flexible with activities because not all the students will follow your explanations at once. However, taking into account the massive public school classes in Brazil, it would be interesting to create groups, and, in each of them, naming a leader who will then be accountable for reporting the progress of the team.

Finally, you can come up with worksheets which vary in level, but have the same content, e.g., one with a simple present fill-in-the-blank exercise, partially answered, and the other with no answer at all. Then, you give the activities to the groups and ask students to help each other, hoping that the more advanced students will assist their peers who seem to have difficulties.

To conclude, it is important to say that multilevel classrooms are a significant challenge. Thus, keep in mind that it is paramount to search for information in various sources, such as the internet, books, articles. Even your co-workers, because it happens that you and a few of them have the same students, and sometimes your colleague knows how to work well with a student who gives you an extra deal of hard work and does not show any progress in your class.

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