Week Eighteen: Young Learners

What was this week’s module about?

We’re moving into the final stretch with just three core modules remaining. This week was an elective module. There was a choice of English for Academic Purposes (EAP) with Tyson Seburn, or Young Learners (YL) with Chris Roland. I opted for the YL strand.

What was covered?

  • Differentiation and planning for mixed ability.
  • Games, rules, and task design.
  • Discipline & classroom management
  • Storytelling techniques

I must admit I glazed over the second and fourth in this list, adding them to the ‘later/rainy day’ pile. I’m sure there’s beneficial stuff in here, and I daresay I’ll come back to this as and when I’m teaching Primary classes once again. I’m thoroughly aware that time management is an issue, especially as my workload with ELT Sustainable and the Language Teaching for the Planet has increased this month.

I do feel that I made a prudent choice in focusing on differentiation and classroom management. The latter is a strength of mine, and definitely something that I want to continue fostering and developing – especially as my preferred groups are sullen demotivated teenagers. Differentiation is something I’m probably quite good at, but definitely wanted to engage with more.

What did you specifically find interesting about those two?

Differentiation is an interesting one. Chris opened the module commenting that these are two areas that Dip teachers often misunderstand. It seems like there are two categories of teachers with regards to differentiation and mixed ability classes. On the one hand there are teachers who argue that this sort of thing is a rare occurrence. Class groups are normally quite homogenous, and there’s no need to plan twice as much for different groups of students. On the other hand there are teachers who see every class as a mixed ability class, and so view differentiation as a necessity in every hour of class taught.

I fall into that second category, by the way. It was fascinating being able to engage more deeply with these issues, and explore ways of better adapting my teaching to cater for individual differences and abilities.

Can you give us a teaser?

Alright, then. What’s a fast finisher activity?

It’s an extra worksheet or task you give to students when they’ve finished an exercise quicker than the rest of the group, to make sure they still have something to do while they wait for the rest.

Right. Why did that student finish quickly? Was it because the material was too easy for them, because they rushed it without much care (perhaps because it’s a bad activity in the first place), or did they do it fast to avoid drawing attention to the fact that it’s too hard for them? If they fall into the first category, rather than calling them fast finishers let’s call them advanced learners. The third category are weak learners. Calling them fast finishers labels them as a classroom management issue. Changing their term to advanced or weak makes it a teaching and learning issue than can be targeted with differentiated teaching and instruction.

What was the assignment this week?

Another exam essay. This time round, Chris invited us to send him a plan first. The feedback on it was insightful (my content was pretty much on point), but the feedback on the essay writing process was a gamechanger, especially with the written exam looming.

Were there any low points?

I was definitely struggling with motivation this week. We’d had a two week break which I’d filled mostly with materials writing for ELT Sustainable. Getting back into Dip Mode was a challenge.


Everybody loves Chris. The quality of teaching on this course has been phenomenally high, and this week’s module has shown they’re saving their best til last.

Also this:

What’s next?

Final stretch. This next module looks at teaching listening and speaking skills, with a focus on Sheila Thorn & decoding. The assignment is part of a lesson plan, and leads into the final module focusing on full lesson planning, Dip-style. With the decision made to leave the assessed teaching for Summer ’22, I need to make sure that I find a way to maintain what we learn over the next 12 months.

Cover photo by Abhinav Goswami from Pexels