Our group classes at ECS Scotland are really rewarding to teach, and for me, teaching a group of students with different levels of English is particularly satisfying.
But sometimes the students ask us, ‘Why is the group mixed level? How does that help me?’
There are some very good reasons for combining different abilities, and the main one is that it mimics real life!
In real life, you can’t choose the English level of the people you talk to. Some people will be ‘better’ than you, and some will be ‘lower’, but you can’t refuse to speak to them - you just have to get on with the meeting or phonecall, and try to communicate as clearly as possible.
Speaking to someone with a different level of English from you can be a challenge, but it’s one that will help you to improve your own communication skills.
Perhaps you feel like you’re talking to someone with a lower level than you, but that means you have to choose your grammar and vocabulary carefully, and be prepared to give simple explanations if they don’t understand something.
How often do you practise explaining words and phrases? It’s an essential skill that you should develop as much as possible. You can make up explanations when you’re reviewing vocabulary, and yes, you can talk to yourself if you like!
Speaking to someone with a higher level of English can be an opportunity to pick up new vocabulary.
Try to use new words immediately so you don’t forget them.
You can also get a big confidence boost from talking to someone who uses more complex language than you do. Some people might feel intimidated and shy, but you should congratulate yourself for handling the situation.
And if you don’t understand everything they say, ask questions to clarify what they mean.
For example, ‘Sorry, could you just explain _____ please?’ or, ‘Sorry, you’ve lost me. What do you mean by _____?’ If you still don’t understand, it’s probably not your fault - they need to develop their explaining skills more!
In our mixed classes at ECS Scotland, you can practise these situations with your classmates, and learn how to communicate better with everyone.
See you in class!