Published 2nd November 2018
Personalised learning is a big thing in the EFL classroom. As EFL teachers, we can have students from all over the world and from many different backgrounds and social situations in our classrooms. Sometimes the prescribed coursebooks aren’t able to cater for the needs and interests of our learners. In order to keep motivation levels up and our students interested we need to personalise the material we use for our lessons, in terms of content and level.
A few things we need to keep in mind when personalising learning.
1. Learner backgrounds
The background of the learner is very important when personalising learning. Important things to consider are age, level, nationality, first language and social background. If you are not aware of these aspects of your learners, you may find yourself creating materials which are pitched at the wrong level or age, are culturally inappropriate or irrelevant. These factors should really be your first port of call when planning personalised lessons.
2. Classroom relationships
Every teacher has a different relationship with each of their classes. Within each class, the students will have different relationships with each other. The tone of these relationships will dictate the level of personalisation of materials. If you have not known your students for very long or just don’t have a close relationship with them, don’t try to get too personal. If your students are not the best of friends, don’t force them to work together on personal topics immediately. Rather stick to topics that you know will interest your students but which are a safe common ground. If your topic is of a personal nature you may want to think carefully about which students you pair together.
Hopefully, with time and more personalised lessons, you will get to know your students and build good relationships with them. This will mean you will all feel more comfortable talking about personal issues in the classroom.
3. Educational goals
Personalised learning is not only about making a topic or a lesson more interesting to your students. Personalised learning takes into account the individual learning needs and capabilities of the learners. This enables the teacher to set goals which are applicable to a certain student or a certain class. Consequently, you must be clear on the goals of your lessons before you consider how to personalise them. This will help you think of appropriate ideas or find relevant materials, and it will help you assess the effectiveness of your lesson.
Personalised learning should become a part of your lesson planning process. Personalised learning will make your lessons more valuable to your learners, as well as more enjoyable. Plus, it will make the lessons more interesting to you too!