IATEFL 2018 Dealing with diversity in the classroom – Geoff Tranter

Geoff is from Techische Universitat Dortmund.

His talk today will focus on the following:

  1. Details of courses
  2. Aspects of diversity
  3. Examples
  4. A macrostrategy approach

He has a B2 – C1 for Engineers and for Business  and a C1-C2 for all faculties. 15 weeks 2hrs per week face to face, 1 hour home assignments, lecture theatres, no coursebook. Generally around 20 students. Differing levels of interest and language learning backgrounds, different school backgrounds, different nationalities and backgrounds, different levels of language awareness, both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, high work load in main studies. They have little idea of difference between spoken and written language, how to give a presentation, different reading/listening strategies, little idea of how to learn, wide range of language accuracy, more and more English is L3/4, wide differences in world knowledge.

Lots of diversity, in terms of students/participants, expectations, motivations, lang learning strategies, awareness, level and skills, strengths/weaknesses, specialist and general knowledge. We also looked at the many teaching objectives that Geoff has to meet.

How to individualise within a large group so that each student has an equal chance of improving? Need an overall strategy to ensure that all aspects are covered and exploit full potential of in class and out of class learning.

He has four examples for ESP Business English and we looked at one for…

Bitcoins – We went through a lesson plan for Bitcoin which was very learner centred, using learner generated questions, learner generated language etc and another for Nationality and Fast Food. Really interesting plans and assignments that bring together all the content and language that the lessons generate.

If you are interested in having a look at these plans, email Geoff at geoff.tranter@tu-dortmund.de  and he will be happy to share his slides as a pdf.


  • Kindle interest
  • Offer opportunity to demonstrate/acquire content/knowledge (In Bitcoin, 14 had little idea and 1 knew nearly everything, so they were able to learn from the 1.)
  • Offer sub-topics to choose from (headlines, aspects)
  • Allow learners to choose and form groups
  • Offer variety of texts (reading/listening/watching)
  • Incorporate all relevant skills and sub-skills
  • Let the learners find answers to their questions
  • Provide appropriate contextualised tasks for individual subskills
  • Use the learners’ assignment texts as the basis for language work
  • Give feedback
  • Establish transparency (tell them why they are doing something, helps them learn how to learn) otherwise it’s like the dentist, fill your mouth with metal and you can’t ask and when it’s finished you are so happy and just want to run away not ask!



One thought on “IATEFL 2018 Dealing with diversity in the classroom – Geoff Tranter

  1. Pingback: IATEFLections: a round-up for 2018 – Lizzie Pinard

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