The Basics of Inclusive Practices

The IATEFL IP&SEN SIG promotes genuinely inclusive practices, that lead to a sense of belonging and full participation for all within the ELT community. 

We share good practice and experience and disseminate information about inclusive teaching methods, materials and resources which help to identify and dismantle all barriers to inclusion and raise awareness of the challenges facing learners whose specific needs and identities may be unidentified or not acknowledged.

Our remit covers principles of inclusion relating to a wide range of human characteristics and identities, acknowledging that they overlap in many individuals, for example:

  • different abilities (both cognitive and physical)
  • race, ethnicity, nationality and linguistic background
  • age
  • faith and religion
  • sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression
  • social class, economic class

Although getting to know how your individual students work is the best way to help their learning, these suggestions can be useful for getting you started;

Tips and suggestions for handouts:

  • Consider your font style and size: Ensure worksheets are in fonts your students can read (some find Comic Sans or Arial easy to read, others might not)
  • Coloured paper: Pastel or recycled paper can help to avoid the “glare” of black ink on bright white paper. However, some students do prefer black on white contrast.
  • Avoid overload: Keep handouts clear and neatly arranged; Even though diagrams and images can help to break up text, remember colour-blind students may not differentiate colours in diagrams and pictures easily.
  • Avoid large blocks of text: Separate long texts into spaced paragraphs. Add comprehension questions at the end of each paragraph rather than leaving them all at the end.


Tips and suggestions for the classroom:

  • Keep copying from the board to a minimum: Consider how much information has to be copied from the board as some students might find this challenging
  • Clear and explicit instructions: Ensure all students are aware of the task and offer explanations and feedback. Also, remember some students may have difficulties with short-term memory activities and might find it difficult to remember a number of complicated instructions
  • Break tasks into manageable chunks: Some students may it difficult to follow long instructions or complete complex tasks. Chunking tasks helps students to focus and complete longer tasks one step at a time.
  • Consider time for tasks: Students work and learn at different speeds, ensure everyone has enough time and prepare extension activities for fast finishers.
  • Recognise strengths and raise self-esteem: Self-esteem is an essential part of any learning relationship. Find ways to raise the learners’ self-awareness and self-esteem. One way can be to focus on their strengths and use this to build up other areas they might have difficulties with.
  • Be aware of your classroom setting: Even when the pupil knows what to do it might still be difficult to do it, because of external factors. Think about where your pupils sit. E.g. Pupils with ADHD might get easily distracted sitting next to a window; the ticking of a loud clock might be distracting, …
  • Give them a break!: Organisation skills and timing can be difficult for some students which results in being late or in the wrong room, forgetting books, etc. Other students may find physical tasks such as standing for a long time, cutting or writing tiring or difficult. Be aware that students with learning differences often work very hard to keep up in class. and it can be hard making these efforts all day, every day – so reward their effort by giving them a break!
  • Other tips to help your pupils retain knowledge:
    • Provide lots of opportunities for reviewing previous work
    • Offer lots of multisensory practice activities

2 responses to The Basics of Inclusive Practices

  1. Peter Anderson 7 October 2017 at 2:07 pm #

    I know we are all experts but perhaps right at the beginning you ought to spell out what IPSEN stands for. I am a member and will support the new group for the coming years.

  2. IP&SEN 8 October 2017 at 9:08 pm #

    Thanks Peter – this is a great suggestion. I guess we are all too close to it to see these issues! Anne Margaret

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