Understanding that students are at different levels of English.

Photo of a teacher and her students (teenagers).

Source: Caiaimage/Chris Ryan, Getty Images

If students within the same class cannot cope with the same exercises, can you grade the tasks i.e. design them so that the same task can be done by different groups of students at different levels?

Here is an example of a writing task that is graded:

A. Write a postcard to a friend, telling them about your holiday.












B. Fill in the gaps or circle the word you want to use:

Dear ________,

I am having a great / fine / terrible time here in ____. The weather is sunny / rainy /snowy. Everyday I go swimming / jogging / skiing. The food is terrible / ok / great. Yesterday I went to a circus / museum / zoo. It was _______.

Best wishes,






While one task is open and challenging for students, the second offers support. It is still challenging, as students need to read and choose their words. The first task may be very daunting for a less confident student and also they may be unaware of what kind of information goes into a postcard – here it’s their knowledge of the world that lets them down not necessarily their knowledge of English.

Other methodology tips for teaching mixed-ability teens

Mixed-ability teens: Addressing all of the students

Mixed-ability teens: Graded dictation

Mixed-ability teens: Managing different speeds and energy levels

Mixed-ability teens: Managing different learning styles

Mixed-ability teens: Outside knowledge

Mixed-ability teens: Problem-solving

Mixed-ability teens: Allowing students to work at their own level