Individual Learner Differences
Learners in one classroom are both similar and, at the same time, different. A learner-centered approach to teaching requires teachers to understand this duality, and to be aware of the different ways in which students learn. Some differences are easy to see or discover, such as…age…gender…socioeconomic conditions…and level of education.
Other differences may be more difficult to identify, including:
- Overall cognitive ability, or “intelligence,” and
- Cognitive development in younger learners.
- Learners’ language proficiency levels, and their
- Motivation for language study.
- Learners’ personality traits, along with their
- Learning strengths, styles and preferences.
Module Focus: Introduction
The focus in Module 11 is on how teachers can vary teaching approaches and techniques to help facilitate learning for a wide variety of learners. They can…
- Vary the type of language input along with the content, and the medium of delivery.
- They can vary learner tasks.
- They can teach learning strategies.
- They can help students take responsibility for their own learning.
- And, they can use group work appropriately.
#1 Viewing points: Individual Learning Differences
Video segment #1. In the following classroom, the students chose a popular song to work on and learn. Here they are demonstrating the results of their work. Look for…
- How the class is organized.
- Different activities that the students do.
- Language and other skills that learners are using.
- An overall learning and teaching strategy.
[M2M’s “Pretty Boy” playing…]
ˇ I LIE AWAKE AT NIGHT ˇ
ˇ SEE THINGS IN BLACK AND WHITE ˇ
ˇ I’VE ONLY GOT YOU INSIDE MY MIND ˇ
ˇ YOU KNOW YOU HAVE MADE ME BLIND… ˇ
TODAY I TELL ABOUT MY FRIEND EXPERIENCE. I HAVE HEARD MY FRIEND TALK ABOUT HER BOYFRIEND. SHE GOT ALONG WITH HIM FOR A YEAR.
MY GROUP IS DRAWING ABOUT THE SONG. THE SONG IS ABOUT A GIRL. SHE IS FALL — SHE HAS FALL IN LOVE WITH ONE MAN, BUT SHE CAN’T TELL HIM ABOUT HER LOVE. SHE IS PRAY EVERY NIGHT TO — AND SHE WANT HIM TO HER BOYFRIEND.
All: ˇ OH, MY LOVELY, LOVELY BOY ˇ
ˇ I NEED YOU ˇ
ˇ OH, MY LOVELY, LOVELY BOY ˇ
ˇ I DO ˇ
ˇ LET ME INSIDE ˇ
ˇ MAKE ME STAY ˇ
ˇ RIGHT BESIDE YOU ˇ
THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. [applause]
This was a large class. Students worked in groups. Each group had a different activity: one group made and acted out a music video…one wrote a personal story that was similar to the story in the song…one group drew a picture about the song and explained it…and one group changed the words of the song. They were using listening, speaking, writing, music, drawing, and drama skills. The teacher also made them aware that they were using the song to learn English vocabulary.
#2 Viewing Points: Individual Learning Differences
Video segment #2. Another way to meet the needs of individual learning differences is to set up learning stations or a self-access area or room. Some reasons for a self-access area are so that…
- Learners can have choices; and,
- They can work at their own pace.
- So that learners can have access to a variety of materials and do different tasks.
- So that learners can work together on projects and activities.
- And, so that the teacher can have more time to work with small groups or individuals.
S.E.A.R. STANDS FOR “STUDENT ENGLISH-ACCESS ROOM.” SO THIS IS THE ROOM FOR ENCOURAGING STUDENTS TO COME AND PRACTICE MORE SKILLS OF ENGLISH, LIKE SPEAKING, LISTENING, READING, AND WRITING.
THIS IS THE PROJECT FROM ALL THEY –ALL THE PROJECT OF…FIVE, BECAUSE I TEACH…FIVE. AND THEY WORK IN GROUPS LIKE THIS.
NORMALLY, I CANNOT REMEMBER THE NAME OF THE STUDENT. SO THEY PUT THEIR FACES ON THIS. LIKE THIS.
THIS IS THE TAGO HERBS. YES, TAGO IS THE NAME OF THE TREE THAT OUR SCHOOL FOCUS ON THESE TAGO HERBS, AND THIS IS THE NAME OF THEM, AND THEN THE PLAN.
AND THEN USE IT TO — TO RUN IT WITH THE STUDENT BIT BY BIT, DAY BY DAY, YEARS BY YEARS AND UP UNTIL NOW. THEY CAN PRODUCE IT VERY, VERY GOOD.
AT FIRST, THEY NEED TO PLAN. I USE TEN STEPS FROM STORY AND THEN LET THEM UNDERSTAND. I HAVE FOUR STAGES OF USING PROJECT WORK TEACHING.
THE FIRST ONE, I JUST — INTRODUCTORY BY — LET THEM UNDERSTAND THE PROJECT WORK. AND THEN I USE THE EXAMPLE PROJECT FOR THEM.
THE FIRST EXAMPLE FOR ME IS SMOKING PROJECT TO LET THEM KNOW THAT SMOKING IS NOT GOOD, TO LET THEM GET THE INFORMATION, AND THEN THEY CAN ANALYZE — ANALYZE THE INFORMATION, AND THEN THEY CONCLUDE AND PRESENT IT TO THE CLASS.
AFTER THAT, THIS IS — I CONTROL THEM TO MAKE THE PROJECT OF SMOKING. AFTER THAT, THEY WILL DO IT BY MY HELP — ACCORDING TO MY HELP. THEY DO THE PROJECT ONE. AND THEN AFTER THAT, THEY CAN DO IT BY THEMSELF WITH THEIR INTEREST FOR PROJECT TWO. AND THEY DEVELOP UNTIL NOW.
THEY CAN DO IT BY INTEGRATED — HOW TO DO — HOW TO RUN THE PROJECT TO OTHER SUBJECTS. LIKE…IS FOR THE BOTANY, AND HERBS IS FOR SCIENCE.
SO THEY CAN — THEY CAN RUN THESE AND GET THE POINT FROM ME, AND THEN THEY CAN ASK FOR ANOTHER SCORE FROM ANOTHER…IN THEIR SUBJECTS.
THIS IS THE NAME, THE PROJECT, AND THEY HAVE THE BROCHURE TO PRESENT. THIS IS TO PRESENT FOR THE BROCHURE. THEY DO IT BY THEMSELF BUT WITH MY HELP WITH THE LANGUAGE. BUT IT IS — A LOT OF STUDENT, I TEACH ABOUT — MAYBE 25 GROUPS TO DO THIS. SO IT RUN — WASTE A LOT OF TIME TO CHANGE, TO DEVELOP THE LANGUAGE.
THIS IS THE TRANSPARENCY FOR THEM TO GET THE INFORMATION AND THEN PRESENT TO THE CLASS. WHEN EVALUATION — NOT ONLY ME, BUT THEY THEMSELF. THEY CAN EVALUATE THEMSELF AND THEIR FRIENDS, TOO,
AND SOMETIME, I LET THE PARENTS TO COME AND HAVE A LOOK AT THEIR — THEIR KIDS’ PROJECT.
AFTER THE THIRD YEARS, THEY CAN HAVE A LOT OF EXAMPLES TO HAVE A LOOK. I JUST GUIDE THEM TO HAVE A LOOK AT THE EXAMPLES, YES? AND WHEN THEY GOT THE INFORMATION, THEY — THEY PRESENT THIS TO SHOW THAT IT IS THE REAL THING TO DO.
Notice the different sections of this self-access room and the kinds of resources that are available.
There are many different areas in this room. Some areas have instructions for using the resources posted.
A schedule for use of the room is posted for students to use.
This room can be used for independent study….
…or, for group work.
Working in groups, students produced a story that was bound and placed in the room. This is called “in-house publishing.”
They also placed their finished group projects on different topics in the room.
Notice that most of the displays on the walls were made by the students or the teacher. Giving students the opportunity to display their work can increase motivation.
A smaller self-access area can also be created in one corner of a classroom…
…or even on a cart that moves from class to class. Teachers can gradually develop areas or carts, as time and the availability of materials allows.
Work stations are another way to allow for individual learning differences. Students can work together or individually at a station. Using work stations can give the teacher time to work with one group while other groups are working on something else. Work stations can give students the opportunity to manipulate things to help them learn, which is a different kind of learning.
At one station, students put together a brain puzzle as part of learning about its parts and their functions.
Another way to learn is to use the world outside the classroom. For this project Students counted all the different animals they saw in their neighborhoods. Then they put together graphs of what they saw at one of their work stations.
Self-access centers or areas, and work stations…
- Give learners choices.
- Allow learners to work at their own pace.
- Provide access to a variety of materials and opportunities to do different tasks.
- Provide materials for working together on projects and activities.
- And, they provide time for the teacher to work with individuals or groups.
Module Focus: Summary
The focus in Module 11 has been on learners’ individual learning differences. Teachers can vary approaches and techniques to help facilitate learning for a wide variety of learners when…
- They vary the type of language input along with the content, and the medium of delivery.
- They vary learner tasks.
- They teach learning strategies.
- When they help students take responsibility for their own learning; and,
- When they use group work appropriately.
See the manual for readings and more information on this and other topics related to Individual Learner Differences.