5 Tips to Teach Mixed Ability EFL Classes


Every student is unique in its own way. The same strategy cannot be used by a teacher to teach children who have different capabilities. In terms of teaching English as a second language, this divide is further widened because while some students have parents who know the basics of English and thus have Better knowledge than others who may not know anyone who can speak English. Students who are at the same level may also be good in one aspect but not as much in another. 

1. Get to know the needs of every student

As we all know as teachers, classes should be student centred and it is the duty of every teacher to know the needs of his or her students. When you get to know what they need only then you can plan your lessons accordingly.  

  • Here are some of the questions you may ask: 
  • Which is your favourite subject? 
  • How do you rate your vocabulary? 
  • Which is your strongest point in english? 
  • Which are the topics you have difficulty in? 
  • How do you rate your vocabulary in english? 
  • For what reason do you want to learn english? 

The answers you get in this questionnaire should be reflected in your style of teaching.Such things are not easy to learn but when you get a TEFL certification, they tell you what strategies should be used for which students. 

2. Have classes with native languages

After every two classes have a class where the children are allowed to speak in their native language. In this way they get more comfortable interacting with you and you also get an idea of their abilities. 

Allowing the first language has now become usual in esl classes. Even the students what unable to complete the activities quickly find it helpful. When students have access to dictionaries and online translators, they are able to keep pace with their other classmates.   

It is also beneficial for students who actually have vast knowledge if allowed to speak in their language but interact little when they have to speak in English.Your first language, your mother tongue has this magical ability to boost your confidence. When allowed to speak in the language they know, they feel at par with their classmates or for some who can speak better, they can also feel more intelligent. 

When you have a TEFL certification and also know the basics of the language of a particular region, it becomes easier for you to know what the students want.

3. Take suggestions from students

This is one of the easiest and yet the most less used method applied by teachers. We are always told that rather then jumping to conclusions we should talk and discuss with the people concerned. And yet the simple principle is completely ignored when it comes two classes. If you want to know what is helpful for the students, what is 2 complicated for them to understand, what are the activities they like, which activities takes so much effort that they find it difficult to understand anything out of it; you should simply ask. 

Every week have one class in which students suggest what should be done in the class. You can also make it fun by making one student a teacher for 10 minutes and seeing what they do. They have to take the class in the way they find most likeable and helpful. 

4. Make the students allies of the teacher: 

Like the Prime Minister has his own Council of Ministers, the teacher can have her own counsel which she changes every week. When the teacher has taught the chapter 

And demonstrated the kinds of questions which should be asked, her council comes to play. She can sit on the chair on one side of the class. Members of the council come forward one by one and choose a student. The other members then have a discussion and decide which questions should be asked to the student. 

This is a very helpful technique because students always learn better and are more conscious when they are asked to question other children. 

When you begin with the topic make sure that you form the council based on the answers you had received in the questionnaire previously mentioned. You already know which students are weak in which topics and it is the weak ones who should be taken into consideration when you constitute the council for that topic. 

5. Pair the students

You can pair the students who are good in one topic with those who are not much interested in it. This way the different pairs can be at an equal level when it comes to activities. Mixed ability pairs also encourage peer teaching.  

Some students find it difficult to communicate or speak in front of the entire class. The child students can be paired up with the more confident ones thus making the flow of conversation smoother. When students talk to each other in English it also enhances their ability to speak.  


Apart from all this the most important thing is that the teacher should teach all the students like they are equal. When she knows which students are good in which topic, she should make questions according to their level. 

For students who are quick, she should have extra activities in hand so that she can give it when they complete their work. Also making questions according to their level makes each student confident and yet they don’t think it’s too easy.