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ESL forum > Ask for help > what to do with laggers?    

what to do with laggers?


what to do with laggers?
Dear teachers,
I hope you will be able to provide me with suggestions to get a way out of my dilemma.
Here is the thing:some of my students always fall behind their peers which makes it hard for me to have a successful class.Even though I make my instructions as clear as possible, they fail to keep up.They never get them unless I explain them in their mother tongue.And even if they get it right, they do it wrong.Actually, they are far behind and I don īt know what do to involve them in the lesson.And if I design activities that would involve them, the others get bored due to the simplicity of the  task.I am in a dilemma.Help me, please.I want to get these laggers interested, but I don īt want the best students to lose their anticipation and excitement or feel bored.
A vote of thanks 

9 Jan 2010      


How old are your students?

9 Jan 2010     


They are from 13 to 15.They have been learning English for three years.

9 Jan 2010     


If possible have the weaker pupils sit close together so that you can give them a second explantion while the others are working. 
You can also grade the class assignments - A- would be the  exercises everyone must do - basic level,  B - for the slightly better pupils and    C- for your top group so they are challenged by more difficult exercises  ( they have to complete A and B before starting C)  so they will be kept busy.  
Then you can grade you tests so the weakest group should be able to get between 60-70%  the middle group from 71- 85% and your top pupils off course will be close to 100%.
Hope this helps.

9 Jan 2010     


I sometimes prepare activities for them to do in pairs, but I put an advanced st along with a lagger. You have to know them well and prepare the activities well, so the advenced ones wouldn īt suffer, and the laggers would be motivated. I find that activities with humour and creativity are very helpful in this - e. g. a creative writing task - some of my sts do this naturally, to some I suggest this: if they īre writing a crime story, they both have to supply ideas, then the advanced st creates sentences and the lagger has to write it all down. But if the atmosphere is good, this strategy flows naturally and motivates them both. ONce I even let them do a revision test (not the real test, but the one before the actual test) like this and it turned out it helped the advanced sts clear out some details, whereas the laggers got the idea of how simple it actually is. If I explain too much, it makes them feel stupid and they complain just to seem cool, whereas the advanced ones get bored. This partnership builds up the esteem of the advanced sts, and the laggers are not so ashamed to ask their peers to explain sth. However, I īm really careful to change partnership combinations, prepare interesting and well-planned activities and to discretely monitro their work. It provides really great results (and in time, requires less effort and time in preparing), because some laggers are just lazy, but some fall behind because at first they īre too ashamed to ask you for help, and if they īre not really linguistically talented (and not all kids are), it īs enough for them to lose interest if 3-4 classes pass without them understanding the main point, and then it may be too late. Just don īt give up. Read all the advice people here give you and try. Be persistent - teenagers may take lots of effort and time, but they īre worth it and you can still get results with them. You just have to find the balance, not to embarass them with too much explaining, yet to gain their trust. This partnership system helps me a lot and really gets results.

9 Jan 2010     

Mariethe House

I found this on the net which might help you especially the paragraph entitled: finding a way forward


After teaching for 35 years or more!!?? I can say that one way to get students to try their best is to make them feel they are individuals and not just a "mass " in front of you!
What I do and I must say that it has limits because ,as teachers, we don īt have all the cards in our game, is take time just before the lesson or afterwards to talk individually to them.
i just say according to the situation: How are you today? or you seem to be quite agitated today. Anything the matter? or I ask him/her easy questions Or just give him a look showing that I know he is there .... etc... At this age children are very self conscious and sometimes hate to speak in front of others.... Just try to respect their personality.... Speak frankly to them but always INDIVIDUALLY !! You seem to be doing well at maths why not at English? Is anything wrong with English? Use humour not irony!! Humour is a loving attitude irony hurts!!
That īs all my divagations for now !Smile
You will manage to find a solution! Being concerned is the first step to solutions and you seem to be sincere!

9 Jan 2010     


Hear, hear! Totally agree with you, Mariethe!

9 Jan 2010     

Mariethe House

Hi!Hi! Anita! Iwas just about to say I totally agreed with you!! LOL

Nice to see you here!!Wink

9 Jan 2010     


Dear sorji!

I have the same problem.

My students are from 9 to 14 (4th - 8th grade) but they start learning English earlier (1st grade) . Some of them have problem even in grade 4. And that īs the time (4th and 5th grade) when I make the biggest effort. These kids usually have problems with other subjects as well - most of them are kids with special needs . There are several things which should be done ( my opinion)

1. Test kid to see what he/she knows - it īs good to be in contact with the teacher from previous grades - if he/she keeps notes about kid it īs great.

2. Make a good plan based on the test you have made and monitor kid īs progress

3. It īs HARD  WORK  because it demands simplifying each lesson according students abilities  so finally you end up with a new textbook but once you make some materials you can use it later. But it īs difficult to "run" with some kids and teach others how to "walk" at the same time.

 And I think that with such kids you should use mother tongue - if not orally than in your written materials because if they don īt understand you and you cannot teach 1 -1 ... There īs no point. What else can you do?

4.For such kids you should have some extra classes.

It īs  hard, and if you have a big class... even worse. Once I had a deaf student and it was interesting experience for me. Interesting but hard.

And finally the results (English knowledge)  are maybe not always satisfying if you consider all your efforts, but you gain something else with your kids...

9 Jan 2010     


Well, I can see I īm not the only one facing this agonizing problem! The only difference is that my pupils are aged between 17 & 19. Added  to this, I have to cover the whole curriculum no matter what happens (they īll sit for the bac exam by the end of the year).

As for my dealing with it, I adopt different approaches none of which seems to be truly fruitful. In fact, I do as Mariethe said. I try to see them as individuals with different needs & personalities but it does not work with all of them. (Some of them see this as an opportunity to get my attention so that by the end of the session they tell me abt their pblms, even the extracurricular ones!)
When assigning a group-work task (e.g. a roleplay), I try to break them into mixed-ability groups to help them learn from each other. Yet, I find out that either the high-levelled pupils do it reluctantly (they want to work with pupils like them) or the low-levelled ones do nothing on the basis that it īs too late to learn English.
I try to ask very easy questions to get mediocre pupils involved. Then, I discover that I īve lost the attention of the bright ones.
In one word, do whatever you think is fit for your kids coz you know them best, but pleaaaaaaaaaaaaaaase don īt use Arabic. If you do so, they īll think that you īve yielded to their paramount demand: teaching English in Arabic, which you already know is anti-pedagogic.
 May God bless you with muuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuch patience!

9 Jan 2010     


I totally agree with Mariethe and anitarobi, of course!
what I do at the beginning of each class is a short recap of our last lessons. I usually ask my "good" pupils to start saying a couple of sentences, then I ask the weaker ones to repeat - I do that for 3 or 4 sentences - it seems to help them remember, because they usually have troubles building sentences, so it īs easier to repeat first - then I ask all the class to build their own sentences.
I īm working in small teams in my classes (5 pupils per team), so I started a reward system based on green points: the team gets a point if all the pupils talked once, they can also get extra points if they do an activity successfully by working together - to encourage them to help each other. Of course they can also have have red points if they mis-behave... but the point is to encourage them, not punish them, so before giving them red points there īs a warning... I also have that system for each pupil: they can earn up to 4 green points per lesson if they participate, mind their grammar, do their homework... I include all those points in a mark.
Hope it helps!!

9 Jan 2010     

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