Class Demonstration Directory

S.1 English: Shopping Vocabulary - Hong Kong Red Swastika Society Tai Po Secondary School

Background and objectives

Like many other Chinese medium-of-instruction (CMI) schools, teachers in this school strive to boost their students’ motivation in learning English. To maximize the benefits of differentiation, not only should the teachers modify the teaching methods, resources, activities and student products to maximize the learning opportunity for each student in a classroom (Tomlinson, 1999), but also the way the students are organized for carrying out the work with will and skill. Therefore, School Development Officer (SDO) of QSIP and teachers aimed at generating effective teaching materials with varied difficulty levels that allowed the students to (1) set appropriately high expectation (Rubie-Davies, 2008, 2014), (2) reduce frustration, not risks in learning and (3) assume responsibility for their own learning (CDC, 2017).

The collaboration focused mainly on the learning and teaching of vocabulary to students of different abilities. Through planning and implementing the lessons that adjusted the learning process (Tomlinson, 1999), the teachers endeavoured to increase students’ motivation and opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skill they need to grow and succeed.

Lesson design for differentiated instruction

Level: Secondary 1

Topic: Shopping Vocabulary


  1. Tiered learning materials
  2. Tiered learning goals
  3. Multi-sensory pedagogical designs
  4. Diversified learning tasks

Application of strategies

1. Tiered learning materials

  • Adapt the vocabulary syllabus to vary the levels of difficulty by following the procedure below.
    • Read the passage and identify vocabulary words students will find unfamiliar.
    • Determine the importance of each target word by considering its frequency and significance in comprehending the passage as well as in other content areas.
    • Determine which words are adequately defined in the text. Some may be defined by direct definition and others through context. Allow students to infer the word meaning whenever possible rather than directly teaching them before reading.
    • Consider students’ prior knowledge and ability when assigning the selected vocabulary items to different learners. The items should be distinguished into two groups: (1) the core vocabulary and (2) the extension vocabulary.

2. Tiered learning goals – Adjust expectations

  • Set appropriately high expectation for learners of different levels of proficiency
    • Students possess limited English proficiency and learning motivation should recognise most of the core vocabulary and to pronounce, spell and apply the elementary-level ones correctly.
    • Students possess a low English proficiency but a right level of learning motivation should recognise all the core vocabulary and to pronounce, spell and apply them correctly.
    • Students of an acceptable proficiency should pronounce, spell and apply both the core and the extension vocabulary.

3. Multi-sensory pedagogical designs

  • Assist students in learning and memorizing new vocabulary through various sensory inputs
    • Produce learning materials that attract students’ attention and deepen their understanding of the vocabulary. For example, each PPT slide displays the pictures or graphics that assist the students in associating the word with a concrete object. Besides, word-chunks and stress signals are added to help students with pronouncing and spelling the words. (Appendix 1)

    • Expose students to the target vocabulary and challenge them to use and memorize the words through game-based learning. (Appendix 2)
      • Engage students in reading and writing the target vocabulary and self-assess their learning in a more relaxed manner by integrating vocabulary learning with memory games. For example, make the shopping items appear on a picture for a while and then removing them using an e-learning software programme. Invite students to call out and write down the items they saw in the picture.
      • Student displayed their learning by completing a worksheet that assessing students’ understanding and the spelling of the target words.


    • Write lyrics to known tunes using target vocabulary (Appendix 3)
      • Provide students with the opportunity to repeatedly sing (drill) in a lively and painlessly way. By so doing, the students learn the vocabulary and, more importantly, the collocations and the sentence structures (Zogota, 2011) at the same time.

4. Diversified learning tasks

  • Assign students to take own-choice quizzes
    • Arrange pen-and-paper vocabulary quizzes written to students’ ability accordingly to assess students’ learning performance. To facilitate the development of learner autonomy and to cater for learner diversity, the teachers allowed the students to take the quiz according to their will and ability and then evaluate their learning outcome.
    • Differentiated lyrics recitation dictation (Appendixes 4a-4d)


Students learned more enthusiastically in the classroom while given multiple exposure to the learning content. They showed improvement in recognizing and applying the target vocabulary. Given the autonomy to select their vocabulary quizzes according to their will and ability, the students had the opportunities to assume responsibility for their own learning, to take calculated risks and learn from mistakes. They were encouraged to exert themselves to seek advancement in both English standard and learning attitude. In general, students demonstrated greater interest in learning English. The picture (bottom right) shows a keen learner modelling on his teacher adding extra verses to the song lyrics. His work served as a booster to not only his own learning, but also his teacher’s desire to be a better teacher.


Curriculum Development Council. (2017). Secondary education curriculum guide: Booklet 5, Embracing learner diversity. Web Edition. Hong Kong SAR, China: Government Printer. Retrieved from

Rubie-Davies, C. (2008). Expecting success: Teacher beliefs and practices that enhance student outcomes. Saarbrücken: Verlog Dr. Muller.

Rubie-Davies, C. (2014). Becoming a high expectation teacher: Raising the bar. Hoboken. Routledge.

Tomlinson, C. A. (1999). The differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Zogota, N. (2011). Using songs, music and lyrics in English teaching: A reference book. Rogovka: Nautreni Secondary School.