My sixth-graders at LQD


Just finished my first hours of LQD’s summer term. A class of six-graders whose ability differences create a big challenge to the teacher. I began the class with a self-introduction activity. Some nailed it easily, while others struggled to pronounce the basic words, mistaking the diphthong /aɪ/ for the monophthong /ɪ/ when pronouncing the verb “live”. 

Then I had them play a game in which they had to say aloud the name of the objects in the classroom. With this activity, the ability gap was even more obvious: 

  • The quickest kids are Uyên, Nhi, Huy, Tân, Quỳnh Anh, and Mason. Uyên seems to be a go-getter kid, but she remains cool the whole time. Huy is overactive and supportive; he never ceases to raise his hand to every question of mine. So is Nhi. Tân and Quỳnh Anh are a little more quiet. Mason is special in that his father is American, so English is the kind of language he uses at home. 
  • Then come the kids of average ability: An, Phú, Quân, Châu, Ngọc, Ánh, Khôi, and Tuấn Anh. Khôi appears to be a slacker to me; he was totally reluctant to speak even the simplest sentences. An is also another difficult case as she seems to be more mature than her peers; she always sticks to L1 in all the activities. Phú and Quân are nice. Ngọc, Châu and Tuấn Anh are quiet. Ánh is a little less competent than other kids in this group.
  • The least productive kids are Nam, Khang, and Khoa. They don’t know the basic words like “rubber” or “pencil case”. Nam wrestled with the basic questions like “where do you live”. Khoa was too slow to follow my instructions, and Khang couldn’t finish the simple task I assigned him.

Teaching a class with a big ability gap is not easy as for the same activity, the excellent kids feel bored, yet the struggling kids feel overwhelmed, which is why we need differentiation in education. 

In the second hour, I had them carry out a class survey:

The task, I think, is suitable, but the worst part is that the kids keep using L1. I don’t know how to deal with this problem yet. I’m wondering how native teachers manage this kind of class. Although I can use L2 all the time, at some point, the kids asked me to speak Vietnamese because they don’t understand. 

There was also one thing that was not as planned: the board. I thought it was a big blackboard, but it turned out to be a small one, so I couldn’t write as conveniently as I expected. Luckily, the classroom has an interactive smartboard, which can be substituted for the traditional board. I also had some difficulty getting used to the display settings of the MacBook when connecting it to the smartboard. No wonder why we teachers need to be certain about the teaching aids, otherwise things may not go as planned.

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