ASEcoLi

Academy for SocioEconomics Linguistics — SPRACHKOMPETENZEN FÜR ALLE

Dealing with Heterogeneous Learner Groups

Posted by asecoli - Dezember 15, 2008

Jean-Pol Martin has recently told me that he is currently teaching a very heterogeneous group. In my view, one of the most central problems to solve in classes at German schools and universities is differentiation. How do you manage that everyone will leave a lesson saying “I’ve learned something new that will help me.” For my BGE primary school course I developed materials that will allow learners to decide themselves whether they want to learn by themselves or in pairs, whether they want to deal with the language actively or passively, whether they want to deal with simple or more sophisticated tasks. At university, I try to meet differentiation by having the students choose topics for their seminar papers themselves (according to their interests and needs). This can be a simple or a complex task (my task will be to find out together with the student if the task can be completed in a reasonable span of time). Nevertheless, when presenting the topic in class, everyone has to make this topic as interesting as possible for the others. LdL at its pure form. And this is also what JPM has experienced as effective.

Sometimes, though, the course contents are neatly defined by official regulations. Here, I have to find a way that everybody reaches the minimum level required in an effective and very efficient way, and I have to see that those who acquire the level earlier can advance even further. One of the things that I use is to present students two baskets of exercises—easier ones and more difficult ones. This way all everyone can decide for himself or herself from which level s/he wants to draw a slip of paper (with an exercise) be tested. Even the simple exercises, however, will seek that the learner (and everyone else in class) can check how well s/he has acquired the minimum level.

Joachim Grzega

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