How do I teach in-company classes with mixed levels?

Help, tips and advice in teaching English

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How do I teach in-company classes with mixed levels?

Unread postby Frauke » 26 Nov 2005, 15:06

Dear Lucy,

I am a new TEFL teacher, made my certificate in July 2005 and started teaching only 6 weeks ago. I am a non-native speaker (German).

I am teaching a group of 8 students in a company. 7 guys, one women. Aging from 30 - 50 years, I would guess. We get on well, have a lot of fun together, but they are beginners, elememtaries and intermediates.

The class was presented to me as a beginners class. I have found out the very first lesson that that's not the fact and was terrified, because I prepared a total beginners lesson. After three classes I wanted a feedback on my teaching and they said, they want to do more speaking (that seems to be very Spanish - forget about the grammar, I just wanna speack...)

So I changed my style, did a few lessons even with business background (making recommemdations and telephone calls) but I found out that the beginners are not able to keep up with the pace. One even said to me that he likes the class, but he finds it difficult, because he doesn't have the grammar background.

In between I alway point out sentence structure etc. and let them correct their own mistakes, but then I hear stuff like: Oh, we know all this and I have already pointed out that I am sure of that, but that they still don't use it correctly, when they speak.

I am so frustrated. I have to walk in there next Tuesday and have no idea what to do with them.

Can you help, please??

Thanks Frauke

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Mixed Level Classes in-company

Unread postby Lucy » 28 Nov 2005, 17:57

Dear Frauke,

If some students are having problems and you think there is a real discrepancy in the level, I suggest your start by talking to somebody at your school. Try to find out if there is another class that these students could attend at their level. This will be better for the students and will help everybody avoid problems later. Somebody will also need to speak to the students about this move.

If there is no other class available, and the students stay in that class, try to spend some time talking to them alone. Find out exactly where the difficulties lie and suggest they do extra work alone at home.

As for the classes, I suggest you spend some time reviewing basic structures such as present tenses, use of some and any, comparative and superlative adjectives. Elementary students will benefit from this review as will intermediate students if they’ve had a long break from studying.

However, be careful about the material that you choose to review this language. Use material at pre-intermediate level, for example. Don’t use beginner materials for this as it will be too easy for the higher level students. If you can, use a text where the target language occurs. This allows the higher level students to have some reading practice and maybe work on more advanced vocabulary whilst giving the lower level students the opportunity to study basic grammatical structures.

It could also be a good idea to talk to all of the group about the need for improving more than just their spoken English. Explain to them the need to practise the four skills as well as improving their understanding and use of grammar, vocabulary and set phrases.

I wish you good luck.


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