Perhaps one of the most important and useful skills in TEFL is grouping. If done correctly, it can do you wonders, and both your students and you will enjoy more fun and more constructive lessons.

It is advised that students are either divided into pairs or groups of three. When in pairs, a student will be speaking and the other will be listening and putting together answers. In groups of three, one will be speaking and the other two will be listening and thinking of answers. In bigger groups, the students won’t get enough chance to practice, and so the productivity will be decreased. Because the first couple of days with new students can be a phase of evaluation, grouping is done randomly. One way to go about it is by assigning each student a number that later will represent a number of the group they’re in. Examples: You have 15 students in your classroom. You go around the classroom giving students numbers 1-5. The students with the same numbers (all the ones, all the twos, etc.) get to work together. And there you have yourself five groups of three. If you have a class of 16 students, for example, then you’ll have four groups of three and two pairs. Numbers can go like this: “1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4,1,2,3,4,5,5,6,6”.

Later, as you get to know your students better, grouping can be planned and organized according to basis.

If you have some talkative and some quiet students, pair the quiet ones together for the fluency activities such as role plays and discussions. This will encourage them to talk more. With grammar or vocabulary activities, it is advised that each group has at least one hardworking student. They act as leaders of the groups and are like safety nets for their group members.

Remember to change the partners quite often so that the students don’t get bored with their partners. This is especially important if there is a student who isn’t very popular with the others.

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