Most ESL students (actually, most learners) can cope with only a few challenges at a time. The chart below outlines key factors to consider when designing a learning activity. Limiting the number of factors that are challenging in any particular lesson allows students to focus on the knowledge and skills that are most critical. It's important to achieve a balance between low and high challenge characteristics in your lessons. Lessons that rely solely on activities with characteristics from the Low Challenge column may be too boring, while those that are in the High Challenge column would frustrate the students.


This structure is designed to help teachers plan instruction so that the information and the activities provided stay within the Instructional Zone of what students can handle. That is, students should be engaged in a level that is slightly above their current level of proficiency but should not be overwhelmed by new information and new tasks at the same time.


The Teaching - Learning Continuum