Two types of differentiation
Before you start, think about the relevant (learning) goals and about why and when you want to differentiate. In Education for Newcomers, two types of learning goals deserve priority:
· Linguistic learning goals, and
· Learning goals that facilitate integration in the society and citizenship.
In order to achieve these goals, you can apply two types of differentiation, namely: divergent and convergent differentiation.
Divergent differentiation provides different learning goals for the students of one class. Some of them complete “basic level” assignments, whilst others can already make do difficult tasks. Every student goes his own way. At the end of a divergent differentiated course, the level between student can vary a lot.
Convergent differentiation is differentiation in function of the same (learning) goals for all the students. In other words: you have a very clear idea of where you want to get the whole group at the end of the course. The way that students follow towards this end point will be different, they will reach the same level, but you adapt the learning trajectory to the needs of every student. Some of them will need more support, others will learn speaking aloud while another group prefers to work in silence.
Convergent differentiation is preferable in the first phase of education of newcomers. You want them to reach the level needed to be able to follow in regular courses.