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By Abel M. Cadias, MA-ESL, LPT

As an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher for almost two decades, I believe that facilitating students’
language learning is framed on their individual and collaborative effort in helping themselves to progress in
terms of strengthening their language skills. The experience I gained from classroom teaching and joining
professional endeavors for my professional growth has solidified my belief that all lessons and activities should
be primarily based on students’ needs. My understanding on how language teaching and learning is embedded
on an eclectic use of many theories; however, I cling into the practice of constructivist learning whenever I
design my lessons and materials. This will eventually lead to the realization of ‘Differentiated Instruction’
where I intend to adapt instruction based on students’ differences. Moreover, I am a strong advocate of
Nunan’s task-based lesson and material preparation design; thus, my lesson plan focuses on students’
activities with clear description of individual, pair-work and group activities.

One of the critical learner needs of students at Mahidol University International Demonstration School is to
strengthen their academic language skills. Since I started working with Grade 10 students in 2014, I have been
responding to this need as shown on how we created the English 10 curriculum map including unit and lesson
plans. The focus of English 10 is to provide learning opportunities to improve language function skills in an
academic context. The key to a fast gradual progress of students’ language competence and performance is to
differentiate content, process, and products (Willis and Mann, 2000). Students should be given equal chance
to learn “challenging” skills by preparing well-scaffolded tiered activities. In one of the units called “Academic
Reading,” my students were provided with three sets of reading materials according to level of difficulty
(theme, context, length, structure and vocabulary) and assessment. All students have to read three sets with a
consideration to their reading speed, comprehension level and readiness. Through peer tutorials, students
who require more assistance in improving their reading skills were given more materials and attention with
the help of their “high-performing” classmates.

This school year, I gave importance to students’ learning preference to help me differentiate students’
activities. I ensure that I incorporate easy step-by-step instructions, reteaching, ample practice time and
various skill-learning and skill-getting activities to support “multiple intelligence” into students’ learning. As a
goal, I plan to integrate TOEFL lessons into English foundations and academics to provide the opportunity not
only in helping them obtain a higher score in the test, but to support their learning preferences by giving them
various tasks that suit their motivation. The students’ projects and learning outputs are evidences of how
much they have learned, progressed and challenged during their learning interaction with me and their
classmates. This school year, my students have been producing many individual and group projects. By setting-
up flexible grouping and allowing them to have options on how to create their projects, my students were able
to produce acceptable and standard work output that they can be proud of.

There are many other strategies that I hope to incorporate in my future interaction with my students in the
classroom to ensure that my instruction is differentiated using task-based student activities to realize an
authentic constructivist learning. I believe that MUIDS has been supporting this professional advocacy.