Jan 16, 2009

Teaching Multilevel Classes

Workshop programme

•What is a multilevel class?
•What problems do teachers face?
•Why does the problem exist?
•What are the benefits of teaching multilevel classes?
•How can we deal with multilevel classes?

1/ What is a multilevel class?

•In a sense, every class is multilevel
•Classes are made up of people, and everyone is different
•Language classes tend to be highly heterogeneous
•Every teaching context is different
•Multilevel / Mixed ability normally used to refer to a group where differences are very pronounced
•Very clear difference in language levels: skills abilities, vocabulary range, grammatical knowledge, pronunciation, …
•Differences in learning styles, speed and aptitudes, as well as motivation
•Differences in background and world knowledge

2/ What problems do teachers face?

•Look at the comments and tick the ones you personally have experienced
•Grade the problems: 1 -5, with 1 = very important for you, 5 = not such a problem for me

3/ Why does the problem exist?

•Some people are more successful at learning than others
•Different learning backgrounds
•Different progress rates
•Learning aptitude & strategies
•Positive & negative attitudes
•External influences

4/ How can we deal with multilevel classes?

•Classroom management
•Motivating students
•Catering for different learning styles
•Learner training
•Grading tasks
•Content teaching
•Activities with different responses

5/ Classroom management

•Good classroom management maximises opportunities for all students to learn
•Teachers are often key influences

Think of characteristics attributed to ‘good’ teachers: authoritative, bright, cheerful, …
•Students’ names
•Praise & encouragement
•Teacher talk
•Instruction giving
•Using pair and groupwork
•Setting time limits
•Tasks for fast finishers
•Whole class feedback
•Using whiteboard
•Classroom layout

6/ Motivating students

•Create an English environment – how?
•Create good atmosphere – how?
•Personalise wherever possible – how?

7/ Catering for different learning styles

•What different types of learners are there?

Find nine in the wordsearch, and then match each type with its description

8/ Learner training

•Some learners automatically adopt effective learning habits

Make a list of what you consider these to be, eg, keeping neat written records

9/ Grading tasks

text level of challenge
task level of support
student success

•Long, complex text, use simple task/s to make reading and/or listening more achievable
•Shorter, simpler text, use more demanding task/s
•Look at the text and the three sets of graded tasks.

In what way/s do the different tasks support different learners?

•Look at the second text and design three sets of graded tasks for different learners.
•What are the benefits and drawbacks of graded tasks?

Discuss and make notes of your ideas.

10/ Graded vocabulary task

•Read the ‘crazy’ text. The most difficult task you could give students is to find the wrong words and replace them with the correct ones.
•How could you adjust this task to varying degrees to make it easier for less able learners?

Think of as many ways as you can.

11/ Self-access

•Caters for wide mix of ability
•Teaching can be tailored
•Learners work on something interesting and useful
•Increases learner autonomy, sense of responsibility
•More time available to spend with weaker learners
•Adds variety
•Grammar & vocabulary exercises
•Readers + cassettes/CDs
•Audio cassettes
•Reference books

12/ Content teaching

•One of biggest differences among learners is their knowledge of world, talents, interests, general knowledge, knowledge of other school subjects
•An unsuccessful language learner does not mean they have no knowledge or skills in other areas
•By providing opportunities to use other knowledge we:
•encourage self-esteem
•encourage respect, create bonds
•ensure everyone has something to contribute
•motivate weaker students
•increase value of English as means of communicationFurthermore, we …
•give English lessons educational purpose
•make lessons relevant to learners’ interests
•take learners’ minds off ‘language’ and get them to focus on communication
•allow learners to ‘show off’ and ‘teach the teacher’
•Quizzes – pictionary, noughts & crosses, What P …?, 3,2,1, snakes and ladders
•Maths tricks
•Number puzzles
•Logic puzzles

Try the two examples on your handout

13/ Activities with different responses

•Some activities allow for different responses from different students
•Projects – multiple tasks, eg, writing, researching, reading, interviewing, graphics, oral presentation – see handout
•Roleplays – variety of roles demanding more / less input

Imagine an interview with a pop group – howcould roles be designed for multilevellearners?

•Bilingual roleplays

– L1 only, L2 only, L1 & L2
– very communicative and very real-life, caters well for multilevel

A) You are an English person on holiday and you need to see a doctor.

You don’t speak her language, doctor doesn’t speak English

B) You are a doctor. You don’t speak English. Maybe another patient can help.

C) You are a patient waiting to see the doctor. You can speak English

•Drama – sketches and plays require different responses from learners, big & small parts, speaking & non-speaking, script writers, props maker, director, music department etc


•Multilevel = rich variety of human resources
•Stronger students can become teaching assistants
•Most tasks can be adapted to suit multilevel teaching
•Effective classroom management is critical
•Collaborative work is what real life is all about

Jan 15, 2009

Ways of Motivating EFL/ ESL Students in the Classroom.


  • The word "motivation" is typically defined as the forces that account for the arousal, selection, direction, and continuation of behaviour. Actually, it is often used to describe certain sorts of behaviour. A student who studies hard and tries for top grades may be described as being "highly motivated", while his/her friend may say that he is "finding it hard to get motivated". Such statements imply that motivation has a major influence on our behaviour.

  • Motivation can be defined as a concept used to describe the factors within an individual which arouse, maintain and channel behaviour towards a goal. Another way to say this is that motivation is goal-directed behaviour.

B/ Motivation in the ESL/EFL Classroom

  • Motivation has long been a major problem for most teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL) or as a foreign language not only in the Arab World but also elsewhere.

  • Motivation in the ESL/EFL classroom is easily one of the most important factors as I'm sure most teachers would agree with me. The main reason I'm coming to this point of view is that most of our students have low motivation to learn English. In addition to that, while most of them have a vague sense that whether "English will be useful for my future" or not, they don't have a clear idea of what that means, nor is that a very strong motivator; it's too vague and too far off.

  • The first step in tackling the problem of motivation is that the teachers need to understand and appreciate the role and importance of motivation in any learning. In the context of second language learning, William Littlewood (1987: 53) observes:

  • In second language learning as in every other field of human learning, motivation is the critical force which determines whether a learner embarks on a task at all, how much energy he devotes to it, and how long he perseveres. It is a complex phenomenon and includes many components: the individual’s drive, need for achievement and success, curiosity, desire for stimulation and new experience, and so on. These factors play a role in every kind of learning situation.

  • “Student motivation is influenced by both internal and external factors that can start, sustain, intensify, or discourage behaviour” (Reeve, 1996).
    The teacher has to activate these motivational components in the students but that is the precise problem. How can it be done in every class everyday?

C/ Ways of motivating students in the classroom

1) - “Pair work” or “Group work”

  • One of the successful ways, if the teacher is resourceful and skilful enough, to motivate his/her students to participate in the lesson is to use “pair work” or “Group work” appropriately.
    Language is best learned through the close collaboration and communication among students. This type of collaboration results in benefits for all or both learners. In fact, learners can help each other while working on different types of tasks such as writing dialogues, interviews, drawing pictures and making comments about them, play roles, etc…

  • Researches on Second Language Acquisition have shown that learners have differences in mastering skills. While one student is good in drawing, another can be good in expressing ideas verbally; a third other student can be good at role play and imitation. Besides, some students find it less stressful, if not much comfortable to learn certain rules or usages of language from their pears and comrades than from their teacher.
    Finally, communicative language teaching requires a sense of community and anenvironment of trust and mutual confidence which “pair work” or “Group work” can provide.

2) The seating of the students

  • The way the students are seated in the classroom will often determine the dynamics of the lesson. Indeed, a simple change in the seating pattern can make an incredible difference to group coherence and student satisfaction, and I’ve seen many other cases where seating has been a crucial element in the success or failure of the lesson.
    The seating pattern you use may, in some cases, not be fully under your control – if for example the desks are fixed to the ground or the school has strict rules about not moving the furniture. Student numbers are also going to be an issue.

  • I’ll talk about average size classes – anything from 6 to 25. Teachers have different preferences for seating arrangements – groups seated round small tables is often one choice. This is probably the best option for the larger classes in this range, but for smaller numbers and with adult or teenage students I think the horseshoe shape, which I find has all of the advantages of groups, and none of the disadvantages. A horseshoe may be desks in a U-shape with a hollow centre, students in a semicircle on chairs with arm-rests and no desks, or students seated around three sides of a large table, with the teacher at one end.
    nIn any case, whatever seating pattern you choose or is imposed on you, the class is likely to be more successful if you keep the following principles in mind:

a) Try and maximise eye contact.

  • Both teacher to student and student to student. In full class phases of the lesson, if the person who is speaking does not have eye contact with the others, then attention is likely to drop. This is the main reason I personally think the horseshoe shape to groups is better.

b) Make sure students are seated at a comfortable distance from each other.

  • Make sure you don’t have one student sitting alone or outside the groups. Besides, try to leave a fair empty, but not so much a space because large distances between the students will tend to lead to a “muted” atmosphere, low pace, and less active student participation in the lesson.

c) Think in advance about how you will organise changing partners or changing groups.

  • This is a stage of the lesson which can potentially descend into chaos if it’s not tightly controlled, with students wandering aimlessly around not knowing where to go or confidently moving to the wrong place.

3) The Error Correction

  • It is always asked whether we should correct all students’ errors, whenever they occur. The reasonable answer is that if we stop at every single error and treat it with no room for errors to take place, this will lead to a gap of communication and students will be too much afraid of making mistakes. Hence, due to being too much obsessed with making errors, students will be too much reluctant to participate.
    Thus, Teachers should be aware of when to correct errors and how to do that without any hurt and humiliation. In a learner- centered classroom, it should be better to correct errors, which students make unconsciously, whenever there is a gap of communication or when not treating the error will result in a misunderstanding of the idea expressed.

  • Concerning the ways of how to correct errors, there are several techniques which the teacher, who is seen as the monitor, should choose from them according to the type of the error and task where the incorrect form of language occurs. Among these ways of correction we can state: self correction, peer correction and teacher correction.

4) Role play

  • This is another technique to vary the pace the lesson and to respond to the fundamental notion of variety in teaching. Teachers are advised to use the role- play activity in order to motivate their students and to help the less motivated learners take part in the lesson. Besides, certain tasks in the student’s book are followed by a role- play activity where it becomes a necessity to undergo such an activity. As good examples of that we can state: the hide (item) and guessing game, dramatizing an interview of customer and shop assistant, doctor and patient conversation, etc…

5) Using realia, flash cards, Stories and songs in teaching

  • Realia and flash cards are considered as important tools in teaching especially a foreign language, since they play the role of a facilitator in teaching new vocabularies such as fruits, vegetables, clothes items, etc…
    Besides, they are very helpful in drawing especially beginners’ attention to follow and match new words to items. In addition, realia is an authentic material that helps the teacher to overcome classroom artificiality.
    Creating stories with the students is another way of developing speaking and writing skills. Actually, creating stories is grounded in the students’ ability to create a story from their personal experience. In creating stories some issues are revealed such as: a) fluency, b) whether the students have enough language to create the story, and c) accuracy.

  • Teachers are able to demonstrate techniques of using songs in different ways to teach grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and community building because the students like songs and they motivate the students to learn the English language in an interesting way. Teachers can elicit students’ ideas about the song through activities such as prediction, mind maps, word splashes, etc. Students discuss questions such as the feelings in the song, what will happen next, etc. and write their responses in an interesting manner. Students may write and present how the song makes them feel and then draw a picture of their feelings while listening to the song. Teachers respond to this presentation and ask questions. Then, feedback is provided from the group.

6) Using audio visual material: cassette player, video, computer…

  • Since our schools are equipped with various audio visual materials such as cassette recorders, videos, computers, projectors, magic boards and many others, teachers should use these materials when teaching. Indeed, they should include the appropriate material to use while planning their lessons. For instance, we should include a cassette player in a lesson based on listening, while we need to include a computer in any e-lesson or a lesson about designing a website or an internet page about your school. Whereas, we can use an overhead projector in presenting writing drafts for classroom correction or to read.

7) Using the L1 in the EFL/ ESL classroom

  • Should we or shouldn’t we use the students’ first language (L1) in the classroom? This is one of the questions which most divides EFL/ESL teachers, whether they are for it or against it.
    The main argument against the use of the L1 in language teaching is that students will become dependent on it, and not even try to understand meaning from context and explanation, or express what they want to say within their limited command of the target language (L2).But there are other, historical reasons why the use of the students’ mother tongue went out of favour. Initially it was part of a reaction against the Grammar-Translation method, which had dominated late 19th and early 20th century teaching, and which saw language learning as a means towards intellectual development rather than as being for utilitarian, communicative purposes.

  • But, we can say that there are a few cases when we can resort to the student’s mother tongue such as
    - When there is a gap of communication or total misunderstanding, since it can prevent time being wasted on fruitless explanations and instructions, when it could be better spent on language practice.
    - It can be used contrastively to point out problem areas of grammar. For example, various course books, like Headway, now encourage students to translate model sentences into their own language in order to compare and contrast the grammar.

  • - It can be used with beginners, when students are trying to say something but having difficulty, they can say it in their own language and the teacher can reformulate it for them.
    - When students need to combine the two languages, for example in those lessons whose focus evolve around translation and interpreting.

Presented by Noamen Amara

Jan 11, 2009


For My Darling

Overwhelmed by love,
I do whisper your name in the sleep.
I am no longer melancholy, since
You decided to be with me.
If you were not,
I wouldn’t surely be.
But, you were and I was
And this is, in fact, our destiny.

Noamen Amara


I am sorry to say,
But this is true.
I don’t mean
To make you cry.
But, I’ve never loved you.

Noamen Amara

A Short Message to an Old Friend

I wish I could speak.
I wish I could tell,
Exactly how I felt,
The day you left.

Noamen Amara

Jan 10, 2009

Noamen Mahfoudh Amara Curriculum Vitae

Full name: Noamen Mahfoudh Amara
Sex: Masculine
Date and place of birth: 06 / 10 / 1973 (Gafsa) Tunisia
Address: Flat 21, Building 1242, Road 836, Manama center 308, Bahrain.
Mobile number: (00973) Once you email me, I can give you my number
E-mail addresses: 1) alexenoamen@yahoo.co.uk
3) alexenoamen@hotmail.com
Social status: Married
Nationality: Tunisian
Degrees and Certificates:

  • Certificate of achievement of a 30-hour training course entitled "Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL/Cycle 2)" from 9th March to June 30th 2011 under the supervision of the Directorate of Curricula, the Ministry of Education, Bahrain.
  • Certificate of participation in a professional development workshop entitled "Questioning the Questioner" on 9th June 2011 at the British Council in Bahrain.
  • Certificate of appreciation in recognition of valuable contributions in the "Telling a Story Competition (year four)" held on 15 May 2011 at Omar Ben A. Aziz Boys School.

  • Certificate of participation in a professional development seminar entitled "Adapting Course Book Materials to Challenge Low Level Learners" on 21st October 2010 at the British Council in Bahrain.
  • Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of a remarkable participation in delivering a workshop for the ELT Professionals Network members entitled "Classroom Management for Young Learners" on 9th December 2010 at the British Council in Bahrain.
  • Certificate of participation in a professional development seminar entitled "Ways in, Ways out: Tasks for Reading" on 7th October 2010 at the British Council in Bahrain.

  • Certificate of participation in a professional development seminar entitled "Classroom Observation: An Opportunity or a Threat" on 8th July 2010 at the British Council in Bahrain.

  • Certificate of participation in a professional development seminar entitled " Submitting Articles for Publication in ELT Journals" on 24th June 2010 at the British Council in Bahrain.

  • Certificate of participation in a professional development seminar entitled "Using Google Images in Introducing Idioms & Proverbs in ESL Classes"on 17th June 2010 at the British Council in Bahrain.

  • Certificate of participation in a professional development seminar entitled "Educational Pod-casting" on 25th April 2010 at Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance.

  • Certificate of completion of an E-Teacher course program entitled "Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL)" from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, U.S.A

  • Certificate of attendance of a one day mini-conference entitled "Teaching Young Learners and Teenagers: Best Practice", organised by the British Council, held on March 3rd 2010 at The Bahrain Institute of Banking and Finance, Juffair, Manama.

  • Certificate of attendance of a "professional development workshop", organised by Cambridge University Press, held on October 4th 2009 at Bahrain Polytechnic.

  • Certificate of attendance of "The First English Professional Development Program", held from 5th to 8th June 2009 at Salman Cultural Center, Manama, Bahrain.

  • Certificate of attendance of a workshop entitled " From Good Questions to Good Language" conducted by Dr. Jacqueline Grennon Brooks, organised by The American Regional English Language Office, on April 16th 2009.

  • Certificate of attendance of a workshop entitled " Story telling: ways of encouraging children to read at home and school through story telling", organised by The ELT Professional Network in conjunction with the British Council, on 23rd February 2009.

  • Certificate of attendance of the "BACKPACK 2" familiarisation training, held on June 22nd 2008.

  • Certificate of attendance of the "Cycle 1 Training", held in June 2008.

  • Certificate of participation in a workshop about " Creative Thinking In and About English " at the Bahrain Training Institute Auditorium on 09/ 04/ 2008.

  • Certificate of participation in a workshop about " Using Games in The Classroom " at the British Council, Bahrain on 21/ 02/ 2008.

  • Certificate of attendance of the "Literacy Day", held on March 10th 2008.

  • Certificate of participation in a workshop about "Say It With A Song" at The Regional English Language Office, American Embassy, Manama on 14/ 02/ 2008.

  • Certificate of participation in a training about " Guided reading Program" at the Ministry of Education from 22/ 10/ 2007 to 06/ 11/ 2007.

  • Certificate of participation in a training about " Teaching English for Young Learners" at the Directorate of Training & Professional Development from 20/ 09/ 2007 to 31/ 12/ 2007.

  • Certificate of participation in a workshop about " Planning An Electronic Lesson" at Al- Ma'amun Boys' primary School on 19/ 06/ 2007.

  • Certificate of participation in a workshop about "Critical Thinking" on 09/ 11/ 2006 at Al- Ta'awon Boys' Secondary School.

  • Certificate of Achievement of a summer course training from Tamworth & Lichfield College in Tamworth, England in summer 2000.

  • Bachelor degree in English language and literature from Kairouan University (June 2001).

  • Experience and career:

  • Conducting a workshop for the teachers of English in Bahrain entitled "Classroom Management for Young Learners" at the British Council Office in Bahrain on 9th December 2010.

  • Participation in a webinar course program ( set of ten online seminars) entitled "Shaping the Way We Teach English" from November 10th 2010 to March 16th 2011 with the collaboration of the Office of English Language Programs at the American Embassy.

  • State Alumni Fellow.

  • Participation in an E-Teacher Scholarship Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA, entitled "Teaching English to Young Learners," from January the 14th to March 24th 2010.

  • Teaching ESP (English for Specific Purposes) and general English to trainees at the Capital Institute & the AIT CENTRE in Bahrain in the academic year 2008-2009.

  • Member of the Board of the Primary Religious Institute in the school year 2008-2009.

  • Teaching at the Primary Religious Institute in Bahrain since September 2007.

  • Teaching at the Religious Institute in Bahrain in the school year 2006-2007.

  • Enrolling and attending the Agregation (post graduate course) programme at Sfax University in the academic year 2005-2006.

  • Teacher trainer for the CAPES trainees in the school years 2004-2005 /2005-2006

  • Teaching at Al Amel private school in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia in the school year 2004-2005

  • Participating in two conferences at the High Institute of Applied Studies on Humanities in Gafsa, Tunisia: -1) "Metaphors of Marginality" in the school year 2003-2004 -2) "Times and Spaces" in the school year 2004-2005

  • Teaching at Abu El Kassem Echebbi intermediate public school from October 2001 to June 2006

  • Recruited and started teaching in October 2001

  • Interests:

  • Get a Master degree in English language or literature

  • Using modern technologies in teaching EFL/ ESL



  • Good drive and use of the computer:
    v Microsoft Word
    v Microsoft Excel
    v Microsoft PowerPoint
    v Internet browsing

  • Monitor the "English Club" at the public Intermediate School Abu El Kassem AL-Chebbi in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia in the academic years 2001-2002 & 2005-2006

Teaching English

This Blog is designed for the purpose of exchanging ideas and attitudes related to teaching English either as a second or a foreign language.
All contributions and suggestions are welcome.