It’s probably to do with having mixed level classes; any language teacher knows that by definition every group class is heterogeneous, different learners find different aspects of language learning more or less challenging, be it comprehension, writing, etc.
Let’s look at the following tenets of IP:
- Overlearning Students with learning difficulties will need to ‘meet’ new items many times over a period of time- as if our language learners ever ‘got’ the past tense first (or fiftieth) time round.
- Instructions Students with learning difficulties will need instructions to be clear, simple, one step at a time – I think this was my first ever CELTA class.
- Modelling activities Students with learning difficulties will appreciate clear modeling of activities so they know what is expected of them – CELTA lesson 2 I believe!
- Use examples It is far better to give Students examples than complex explanations – lesson 3 I imagine, and we could go on!
- Varied activities Students with learning difficulties will appreciate different ways of receiving information – when was the last time you just ‘did’ writing for one hour? Or reading or listening in fact? One of the main advantage of the four skills is that there are four of them.
- Vary production and assessment methods Some students with learning difficulties will find it difficult to write long essays or remember long texts -it’s just as common to have students produce a podcast instead of a written text, perhaps more so.
- Avoid excessive writing and board-copying Some students will find it challenging to copy long texts from the board – especially in a foreign language, it’s boring too.
- Use Word Lists Some students with learning difficulties will work better with lists of frequently used words easily available – ooh, look at those lovely posters of labeled body parts and frequently used verbs that are on the walls of my classroom!
- Structure and Routine Students with learning difficulties are more comfortable when they know what is happening and what is going to happen next – don’t we all? Most learners will want to know what’s going on, especially when they don’t necessarily understand everything the teacher is saying.
- Involve the Students in the learning process Although tips can be useful, each SEN learner is different, so ask them how they learn and what works for them or doesn’t – This final point brings us back to the introduction, ALL learners are different and getting them involved in their learning process not only produces more favourable outcomes, it is also more motivating and empowering.
I think it’s fair to say that with a little forethought, every ELT teacher can easily practice inclusivity in their lessons, although there is always more that we can be doing to ensure every student is sufficiently supported and challenged in our classrooms, and I’ll be looking at some tweaks and tips in my next blogpost.
New Code of Practice : 0 to 25 years Sep 2014 Department of Education https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-code-of-practice-0-to-25