Differentiated teaching to English Language Learners at four different levels
For the next six weeks we will be learning how to present in public (public speaking) in my language acquisition class. While all of my students are ELLs, for the most part the fit nicely into four language ability ranges, represented by four fake names, Chris, Kelly, George, and Jina.
Chris’ English level is what would be considered “Advanced Beginning.”
Kelly is Intermediate.
George is Early Fluent.
And Jina is Fluent.
Each of my class lessons will require that I vary my language usage to include precise instructions for those who can understand with simple instructions so everyone can at least understand what we are doing.
Additionally, I will break the instruction up in the following ways:
1) teaching how to speak
I will introduce the importance speaking loudly enough for all to hear. After introducing this topic in a specific and general way, I will ask students to team up in groups of 4, with each language level represented in each group. In these teams of four, I will ask them all to tell a story to the group using 200% the normal volume, and 200% more gestures. While this will be comical, it will get students used to speaking loudly while being the focus of attention.
Here I will introduce the “speaker’s triangle” and model appropriate movement. Focusing on “moving with purpose,” I will ask the students to get into the same groups of four and present three points of observation to support an argument, moving with purpose to the three points of the speaker’s triangle.
At this point the lower level students will not be able to keep up, but will still benefit by observing (and critiquing!) the higher level students. We will learn about rhythm, pacing, pausing, voice inflections, alternating speed of speech delivery, etc. This time when we break into the same groups of four (with all four language levels represented in each group) the students will listen to each other speeches, and fill out a worksheet where they grade each other based on a rubric. There are so many things to pay attention to, that only experienced speakers would be able to do everything well. None of my students are experienced speakers, and all will be taken out of their comfort zones. However, as they observe each other, and share feedback on what they observed, they will be able to identify things they do well and can gain confidence accordingly.
So much of good public speaking requires self confidence and a willingness to go out and make mistakes. At the end of our lessons, I will encourage each member of class to be a risk taker, and be willing to make mistakes. There will be many mistakes on the journey, but often they can be our best teachers.
We will continue practicing speaking (with polish) throughout the rest of the semester to continue developing this skill.