Tips for Accommodating Advanced Students in ESL Classrooms

 Most classes have several students who are more advanced than the others. They learn easily, their assignments are finished quickly, but they can be a behavior problem if they are bored. Teachers are required to meet the needs of children with a wide range of abilities and very different needs. There are a finite number of hours in a school day but the variety of student needs is infinite. This article will list some ideas that might be a step towards solving the needs of advanced students in an English second language class.

Advanced students may:
– learn quickly without needing to work at it
– be reliable conscientious workers
– be interested in only one thing
– not have good work habits
– have a negative attitude to school
– be very talkative and social
– be very quiet and withdrawn into their field of interest
– complete their assignments ahead of the others

Teachers are faced with these variables plus many more. Let’s discuss some ideas that will help these students and you, the teacher. If they can be offered a program that is right for them, many of their negative attributes might disappear.

The Student Who Learns English Quickly Without Much Effort
If the student is more competent than his or her peers then try any of these suggestions according to the materials available to you.
– have the student work with another advanced classmate on a creative project related to their interests
– provide English material about subjects of interest to the student
– make use of a classroom computer program that will be challenging
– provide English books for them to read independently

The Student Who Learns Quickly but Has a Negative Attitude and Poor Work Habits
These students are sometimes bored. They have stopped caring about school.
Try to:
– identify something that they are interested in
– encourage them to bring English books that interest them to class and assign a research project to be done in English.
– have them use the computer to research their subject
– encourage them to help others with their English

Students Who Complete Their Assignments Ahead of the Others Need to Have Something of Special Interest to Do.
Create a situation where they can:
– work with another English language student on an English project such as writing a role-play to perform for the whole group
– find English books in the classroom or the school library
– help other students
– work on an on-going English language project such as writing a story

These advanced students are a very important part of the class. They often have suggestions that spark ideas in the other students. They are often natural leaders so it is especially important that their needs be met. Spending a little extra time adjusting their program can help to create a harmonious ambiance within the class.

There are further tips in our blog “Keeping up on the News Can Help an ESL Student”.

This article has listed some of the problems encountered when teaching advanced students within the framework of a regular ESL class. Try any of these approaches for helping advanced students to adjust to the classroom situation in a positive way. Establishing an effective program for these students will benefit them, their classmates and you, the teacher.

See also:

Learning English with Laughter Ltd.


Our curriculum is in use in more than 75 countries around the world.

About brian_mu8dft39

Successful ESL was created out of our first company, Learning English With Laughter which began in 1990 when we, George and Daisy Stocker, traveled to the historic city of Karlovy Vary in Czechoslovakia, to teach English in a private language school. Communism was over and the people were embarking along the road to democracy. There were hundreds of students eager to learn the English Language, but suitable textbooks were non-existent. Consequently, we wrote as we taught, making countless revisions as we listened to the students' special needs. Upon returning to our home in Victoria, Canada, we have adapted the Teen-adult Series to meet the cultural needs of students in a number of different countries. A variety of adaptations have been achieved through contacts with many countries. Thousands of students have encouraged us to use a conversational approach to English that stresses communication in a variety of everyday situations. See our facebook page:
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30 Responses to Tips for Accommodating Advanced Students in ESL Classrooms

  1. Kathy Hooks says:

    Thank you for the suggestions. I also give mine a more complex version of the same assignment. For example, if we’re wiriting paragraphs, these students might write essays. If we’re writing sentences, they might write paragraphs. I try to be more creative with their assignments and try to give them lots of extra reading material that will accelerate their vocabulary development.
    Thank you again!

  2. Thanks for these great tips!

    I hope more and more teachers may apply them – and develop their own, as well – to help students become aware of the learning process, turning it into a cooperative work…

    And finding joy in the process! 😉

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  5. Great article. It’s so hard to accommodate students of all different levels in one classroom, but is even harder in an ESL classroom. These tips will be quite useful!

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    You have really interesting blog, keep up posting such informative posts!

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