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A TESOL Symposium on Differentiated Instruction

A TESOL Symposium on Differentiated Instruction:
Meeting the Needs of Large Groups of Diverse Learners

December 5, 2009

Manila Hotel
Manila, Philippines

Featured Speakers:

  • Linda New Levine
  • Penny Ur
  • David Nunan

Closing Session Facilitator:

  • Ma. Lourdes G. Tayao

Symposium Schedule
Registration Information


Throughout the world, including many Asian countries, English language teachers, teacher trainers, and program administrators at all levels face common challenges in meeting the needs of large, diverse groups of learners.

Whether in the classroom where they teach, or across the educational system where they work, related challenges faced by English language educators include limited resources, lack of professional development opportunities for teachers, low student motivation, and pressures to “teach to the test.” Often, this situation results in a tendency for teachers to teach to the middle, missing opportunities to engage all of their students’ potential for learning.

This one-day symposium will provide an opportunity for English language teaching professionals to learn from and interact with leading professionals in the field on the important topic of differentiated instruction and its implications for related issues, from teaching training to curriculum planning. Participants will learn about systemic approaches as well as a wide variety of practical strategies and techniques to help them more effectively meet the needs of their students.

TESOL’s affiliate, the Philippine Association of Language Teaching, Inc. (PALT), chose the theme for this symposium.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

9:00 am–9:30 am Welcoming coffee/tea

9:30 am–9:45 am

Welcome and Opening Remarks

Helen C. Parcon, President, Philippine Association for Language Teaching, Inc.
Mark Algren, 2009–2010 President, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc.

9:45 am–12:00 pm Featured Speakers: Introductory Presentations
12:00 pm–1:30 pm Lunch

1:30 pm–3:15 pm

Featured Speakers: Concurrent Sessions

  • Linda New Levine
  • Penny Ur
  • David Nunan

3:30 pm–4:30 pm

Closing Session: Summary Followed by a Question/Answer Panel Session with the Featured Speakers

Ma. Lourdes G. Tayao


Differentiating Language Instruction in the K–12 Philippine Classroom

Differentiation is a philosophy of teaching and learning. It focuses teacher attention on the processes and procedures that “ensure effective teaching for varied individuals” (Tomlinson & McTighe, 2006). It requires that teachers believe that all students can learn but that they don’t all learn in the same way. The curriculum tells teachers what to teach but differentiation aims to tell us how.

This presentation explores the belief system upon which differentiation is based and identifies the kinds of variation seen in learners. Participants focus on creating objectives for both content and academic English, and supporting those objectives with a variety of scaffolds suited to the students’ language proficiency levels.

The presenter describes specific classroom procedures which will increase achievement gains for all learners, even in schools with large classrooms. She also suggests restructuring questioning procedures, increasing checking for understanding, providing context for academic reading, and increasing language interaction in content classes.

Tomlinson, C. A. & McTighe, J. (2006). Integrating differentiated instruction and understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Learner outcomes: Participants will

  • define differentiation.
  • recognize learner variation.
  • construct language and content objectives that are specific and scaffolded.
  • identify a variety of visual, graphic, and material scaffolds.
  • collect a list of modeled strategies for language interaction and comprehension checking.
  • recognize how to construct pinpoint questioning.
  • describe how to provide context to academic reading.

Linda New Levine is a consultant for public school teachers of language learning children and programs for teaching English as a foreign language in both primary and secondary classrooms. She began her teaching career in the Peace Corps in Lanao del Norte, Philippines, where she worked with elementary teachers throughout the province. She has been a teacher of English as a second language (K-12) and an adjunct assistant professor of ESL methods and materials for school-age children at Teachers College, Columbia University. She has written elementary ESL curriculum and conducted numerous workshops with ESL, EFL, and mainstream teachers in the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Dr. Levine holds a master’s degree in TESOL and a doctorate in applied linguistics from New York University. Her most recent publication (with Mary Lou McCloskey) is Teaching Learners of English in the Mainstream Classroom K-8: One Class Many Paths (Allyn and Bacon, 2009).

Teaching Large Heterogeneous Classes: Some Practical Principles

What is a large class? What is a heterogeneous class? What are the problems we encounter when we have to teach classes that are both large and heterogeneous? In this talk, I begin by defining what is meant by large and heterogeneous, and then list some of the main problems—but also the advantages!—that we encounter when trying to teach them. As with many educational problems, there are no easy solutions. I propose and discuss a series of practical teaching principles, illustrated by practical procedures, that involve very little (or no) extra preparation, that can make our job teaching large heterogeneous classes easier and that go some way toward providing opportunities for effective learning.

Learner outcomes: Participants will

  • appreciate the complexity of the apparently simple concept of a heterogeneous class.
  • discuss and list some of the problems and challenges associated with the teaching of such classes.
  • become aware of a set of practical principles that can help to address such problems.
  • learn a number of practical teaching procedures through which such principles may be implemented in the classroom.
  • share their own experiences in the teaching of such classes.

Penny Ur was educated at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Reading. She emigrated to Israel in 1967, where she still lives today. She is married with four children and seven grandchildren. Penny Ur has thirty years’ experience as an English teacher in elementary, middle, and high schools in Israel. She teaches master’s-level courses at Oranim Academic College of Education and Haifa University. She has presented papers at TESOL, IATEFL, and various other English teachers’ conferences worldwide. She has published a number of articles, and was for ten years the editor of the Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers series. Her books include Discussions that Work (1981), Five Minute Activities (co authored with Andrew Wright, 1992), A Course in Language Teaching (1996), and Grammar Practice Activities (2nd Ed., 2009), all published by Cambridge University Press.

Teaching Listening and Speaking Skills to Large, Multilevel Classes

This workshop explores practical ideas for teaching oral/aural skills to large, multilevel classes. In the plenary presentation, I look at some of the characteristics of large, multilevel classes and describe the challenges as well as the benefits of working with such classes. In the workshop, I describe a number of classroom techniques that are effective with large, multilevel classes. Participants have the opportunity to design their own classroom techniques.

Learner outcomes: Participants will

  • describe five challenges of teaching large multi-level classes.
  • suggest five benefits of working with large, heterogeneous groups of learners.
  • identify ways of differentiating listening and speaking tasks to make them more challenging or less challenging.
  • design listening and speaking tasks that have different outcomes for learners at different proficiency levels.

David Nunan is Emeritus Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Hong Kong, and Vice-President: Academic at Anaheim University in California, USA. He is also Senior Academic Advisor to Global English Corporation, San Francisco, and Professor, School of Education, at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. He also holds concurrent positions as Dean of the Graduate School of Education, Newport Asia Pacific University in Newport Beach, California USA. He has published more than 100 scholarly books and articles on the impact of English as a global language as well as task-based language teaching, a method he pioneered in the 1990s. Nunan is also the author of several major textbook series for the teaching and learning of English as a foreign language. These texts are based on his task-based language teaching method and are widely used in schools, school systems, and universities in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and China. Recent honors and awards include a 2002 citation by the United States Congress for services to English language education, and the 2003 Thomson Learning TESOL Lifetime Achievement Award. Nunan is a past president of TESOL.


Ma. Lourdes G. Tayao, currently a professorial lecturer of the University of the East in Manila, Philippines, obtained her bachelor of science in education, master of arts in teaching English as a second language, and a doctorate in language teaching from the University of the Philippines; and a diploma in advanced research in applied linguistics as a BPS scholar from the Regional English Language Centre in Singapore.

A retired professor of the College of Education, University of the Philippines, Dr. Tayao serves as a consultant for the secondary English curriculum of the Department of Education. She has served as a division supervisor of secondary English and assistant principal of Lakandula High School in the Division of City Schools in Manila; she has also written and edited language and reading textbooks, contributed to language journals, and presented papers and served as a speaker in local and international conferences.


To register for the TESOL Symposium on Differentiated Instruction: Meeting the Needs of Large Groups of Diverse Learners, please go to PALT’s web site at and register for the Pan-Asian Consortium of Language Teaching Societies 2009 (PAC 2009).

The TESOL symposium will be held on the last day of PAC 2009; you cannot register for symposium separately from the conference. Please refer to the PALT’s Web site on how to register for PAC 2009 and the TESOL symposium.

If you have any questions, please contact


The Manila Hotel
One Rizal Park
Roxas Boulevard
Manila, Philippines 1099
Tel: (632) 527-0011


Symposium attendees are responsible for making their own arrangements for local accommodations.