Framework And Differentiation In Teaching A Foreign Language To High School Students


The purpose of the research is to depict the university conditions of the synchronic implementation framework and variability in teaching a foreign language, being able to increase qualitative schooling in an up-to-date university with regard to students’ individual aptitudes. The authors are wondering whether the framework permits to provide equitable access to education to all citizens. Variable learning expands learners’ possibilities to select his/her own individual route at university to gain more competences and experience in the sphere chosen. The theoretical basis of the technology of variable learning is formed on system-based, personality-oriented, competence-based and activity-based approaches. The authors conclude that the formation of a bank of educational resources for teaching students taking into account their level of language proficiency influenced the educational system of the University, the development of the educational space of the region. Online courses on various aspects of the language allow implementing the Federal standard in the educational institution in all varieties of variable educational programs. The authors recommend changing the teacher’s and student’s view on their role in the learning process, establishing the necessary character of the interpersonal interaction in the partnership mode, determining the methods and forms of work that provide pedagogical support to each student.

Keywords: variability, framework, education, teaching a foreign language


With the importance of the framework and differentiation in language development, a considerable amount of research aims to identify the terms of variability and framework (Aurorin, 1977; Dautova, 2010; Fischer, Marliave and Filby, 2002; Glasersfeld 2001). The question is how they are connected and interact in the English lesson (Bondarevskaya, 2000; Schoenemann and Gerritz, 1990, Solovova, 2006) and in what way both of them make the impact on the educational process (Keeves, 2004, Biggs, 1990). However, the nature of these two most essential characteristics of arrangement students’ schooling is sophisticated and diversified (Ingebo, 1997), as there is no consensus on understanding these didactic principles by teaching a foreign language and how they are developed (Bachman, 1990; Panov, 2007).

Concerning the question about the education variability, some main viewpoints dominate:

1) it is known as a cultural-historical process of multiplication of cultural and social variety of teaching methods, possessing unique, special and general features of schooling;

2) it gives various educational plans and programs for teachers and students;

3) it is a variant of personality-oriented education based on the principles of individualization and differentiation;

4) it provides training opportunities for an individual in learning at the university.

As the main definition of the term ‘education variability’ in this research, we will take the following one. “Education variability is aimed at empowering the student to choose an individual educational route, software, tools and training forms to fully employ his knowledge and abilities, but the development of his variable style of thinking is of paramount significance” (Moskalenko, 2011, 72).

Problem Statement

To date, education frameworks are considered to function as formal structures, which are adopted by the government to define the country’s qualification system. The education system includes some levels and determines the principal requirements for qualifications to be awarded at each of these levels. The scope states what qualifications are appropriate for the particular English knowledge level and points out a continuum of learning that matches other requirements to be placed within the educational system (Gay, Mills and Airasian, 2000; Moskalenko, 2011).

Research Questions

  • What are the major criteria for differentiation between the framework and variability in the educational system of university?
  • What are the techniques for designing a unified educational environment?
  • What are the ways to enhance and intensify the modern educational process?

Purpose of the Study

This investigation is connected to the contemporary situation in the educational system in Russia that demands enriching and deepening the university model of teaching a foreign language taking into account students’ abilities, interests and wishes. The research is targeted at substantiation and describing the methodological approaches of the advanced university model with application new educational strategies based on the principles of expanding the educational space for students and developing values and technologies throughout the variable learning.

Research Methods

Methodological Approaches

The variable learning technology represents as a sequence of purposeful pedagogical procedures, operations and techniques, the implementation of which in the educational process allows any educational body authorities to improve the quality of students’ training, taking into account their individual features. The theoretical basis of the technology of variable learning is formed on system-based, personality-oriented, competence-based and activity-based approaches. The personality-oriented approach is the backbone one, which considers the individuality to be the main object of personified education. The activity-based approach reflects the social and cultural conditions around the developing a student as an all-round developed personality. It helps to create conditions for an individual for obtaining the positive values of the society, aimed at self-improvement and active participation in the university community. The system-based approach reflects the didactic law of socio-cultural influence on the choice of goals, content, methods and forms of education. The competence-based approach supports one of the aspects of the above-mentioned approach and is targeted at understanding by an individual a professionally orientation system that will let him be successful in life activities (Arsaliev, 2013).

The implementation of the competence approach is ensured through the following principles:

(1) personal orientation of the process of teaching the English language;

(2) focus on the formation of communicative skills, relevant for understanding foreign cultural discourse (when listening / reading) and self-generation of foreign language discourse (during oral and written communication);

(3) authenticity of the used educational materials (auditory, visual, graphic);

(4) reliance on the responsibility of the student;

(5) use of reflection and self-assessment in the educational process, contributing to the development of students’ autonomy;

(6) integration of the mastery of speech skills and speech tools;

(7) application of various models and forms of interactivity and independent work in the room;

(8) a transparent system of all forms of control: current, intermediate and final, providing a clear understanding of what is evaluated in the course;

(9) open assessment scales for all tasks with a freely constructed response.

Methodological Principles

The technology of variable learning is based on the following principles:

(1) the principle of expanding the educational space for students taking into account their abilities, interests and inclinations based on the choice of an individual educational route;

(2) the principle of continuity of goals, values and technologies throughout the individual educational route;

(3) the principle of expanding the choice of one’s own educational route in the transition from one course of study to the next;

(4) the principle of increasing independence in the educational activities of students and increasing their responsibility for the resulting intermediate and final results;

(5) the principle of maximum availability of educational resources to any student and teacher;

(6) the principle of minimizing the volume of reproductive tasks in the educational process;

(7) the principle of increasing students in classroom and extracurricular activities in a foreign language class.

5.3. Participants and sampling

To create a unified educational environment, the requirements for the development of the course are the same, but the course provides the differentiation for the possibility of its development in different volumes. This variable learning gives an opportunity to implement foreign language training in three versions (depending on the initial level of foreign language communicative competence of students) on the pan-European scale of foreign language proficiency (CEFR).

For the 1–3-year students: (1) basic level – in the range of levels: A2+ – B1 (3 “satisfactory”); (2) increased level – in the range of levels: B1+ – B2 (4 “good”); (3) high level – in the range of levels: B2+ – C1 (5 “excellent”).

For the 4-5-year students: (1) high level – in the level range: B2+ – C1; (2) advanced level – in the range of levels: C1+ – C2.

With the same content of English language education for all LUNN students, differentiation of levels within the training modules is provided by:

(1) variability of communication issues for each thematic section, its full / partial compliance with the real context of the target audience, which, in turn, determines the nature and level of language and speech repertoire on the topic;

(2) the degree of cognitive complexity of training tasks;

(3) the nature of the design and research work.



There are many widely spread and popular methods of teaching, training, and development English learners’ activities that guarantee successful results in the educational process. Therefore, the essence of differentiated education is to introduce these activities taking into account the peculiarities of individuals’ learning in the educational process. Today the emphasis is not on the personality in learning, but on the individuality and uniqueness of a person.

The leading strategies of the modern educational process include such components as the framework and variability, as they are the main didactic, organizational and methodological algorithms in educational and research work (Hattie, 2014; Solovova, 2006). The following process provides the combination of these functional variants of the language: (1) EGP (English for General Purposes), (2) EAP (English for Academic Communication), ESP (English for Special Purposes).

University graduates should be well-educated people who are ready to support not only professional communication, but also to demonstrate erudition on a wide range of problems of humanitarian, social and cultural interaction with potential partners. Accordingly, the discipline includes various communicative topics necessary for communication in the socio-cultural sphere, which is the main purpose of training in the course of English for General purposes (EGP).

English for Academic Communication (EAP) is the next variant of the language. The core of this language scope is the focus on the formation of academic skills of oral and written speech, as well as cognitive skills that form the basis for the successful development of higher professional education programs in the English-speaking educational environment in a high level of academic autonomy. Academic skills in all types of speech activity (listening, reading, speaking and writing) are selected taking into account the real educational context and situations of students of international universities/ programs, and are the basis of the planned results and content of the intermediate and final control of the course.

At the same time, this model of language learning cannot be separated from the formation and development of academic, analytical, research skills in the oral and written speech; it correlates with the tasks of increasing the level of academic autonomy and development of design and research activities.

English for Special Purposes (ESP) is implemented through the development of professionally oriented vocabulary, skills for working with scientific and popular scientific texts, the use of various forms of research projects (the subject and recommended forms of project work are offered in the content of each thematic section and the level of its development). Language skills and speech skills formed at this stage of language learning are subject to control in most international exams.

English for special purposes is aimed at developing Professional English skills. It provides students with an opportunity to learn about the main issues and key factors in the field of their chosen professional activity, including the vocabulary and terminology of a particular specialty in English. Because of mastering the course, students will be able to listen to lectures by English-speaking specialists, read literature on their chosen specialty published abroad, as well as take part in discussions, seminars, conferences held in English, which contributes to the adaptation of students in a professional environment.


Since the problem of the essence of two significant and synchronically mutually limiting and supplementing each other points in the studying training is being developed in line with the student-oriented education paradigm, the ideas and methodological foundation are comprehensively reflected in the theory of teaching a foreign language at high schools (Bachmann, 1990; Solovova, 2006; Hattie, 2014).

The framework and differentiation in training students at university allow highlighting the functional interlinks and interdependencies between the components of the learning process and helps to show the peculiarities of teaching the discipline “The English language” in the whole educational system. Table 01 shows the students’ opportunities in the conditions of variable training.

Table 1 - Students’ choice in the conditions of variable training
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In presented research, the following viewpoints and concepts were used:

(1) development of the active position of high school students in modern conditions by J. B. Biggs and C. Tang (2011) and A. Moskalenko (2011);

(2) enhancing students’ possibilities in educational activities by V.V. Grachev (2007) and J. Hattie (2014);

(3) advancement of variable training by V.V. Pican (2008);

(4) the major principles of teaching a foreign language at high schools by Aurorin, (1977) and Solovova (2006).

However, all these works, dedicated to the issue of matching the framework and differentiation, do not cover all the items of the relationship between the scope and variability. In what way these essential didactic principles allow one to improve the teaching and learning, so the research aims to develop these strategies at university.


Variability in education is an implementation technique, which allows students to delay decisions about their individual route at university. At the same time, variable training is designed to provide the opportunities of language practice and extending the international collaborative work within students’ learning at the university. Such use of both components – framework and differentiation – matches the main principles of modernization of an educational process of teaching a foreign language.

To start with, the diversified learning provides the availability to all the categories of Russian citizens, and they can obtain higher education in the following forms: (1) full-time learning; (2) part-time learning; (3) distance learning; (4) studying for an external degree.

The distribution of newcomers is organised by the help of the Placement Test. Students are assigned to English language groups based on the results of the Placement Test in accordance with the European level scale CEFR: Group A2 – Pre-Intermediate; Group B1 – Intermediate; Group B2 – Upper-Intermediate; Group C1 – Advanced.

The variable learning is based on a competence-based approach, the essence of which is reduced to the following provisions:

(1) formation of competences relevant for the communication in conditions of real communication;

(2) determination of the set of competencies that ensure successful intercultural professional communication;

(3) orientation on the effective component of the educational process;

(4) correlation of communicative skills with generally recognized levels of English proficiency;

(5) compliance of the teaching content with the modern educational paradigm;

(6) delegation to students of tasks of the organization of independent educational activity.

This changeable technology involves the introduction of modern forms of organization of educational process, which include a modular technology that allows including as a mandatory component of a significant part of the educational activities of students (about 50 %) in the format of independent (autonomous) mastery of foreign language competence. During the training there is a rotation of previously studied material, its use in new speech situations. The selection of the course subjects implies the possibility of systematic repetition of previously studied factual, language and speech material, the creation of a complete picture of the perception of previously studied and new material, the development of cognitive and communicative skills of working with information. A special role in the study of thematic blocks is given to the country of the native language-Russia and its role in the development of world civilization, the ability to represent Russia and its culture in a foreign language.

The training module is built taking into account the following parameters: (1) mandatory volume of classroom lessons; (2) tasks for independent study of a certain educational material with the indication of private goals (electronic resource); (3) search tasks on the Internet / creative tasks; (4) individual / group projects; (5) performing a standardized test; (6) evaluation of test results.

Teaching a foreign language includes diversified kinds of speech activity: listening, reading, writing and speaking.

. It includes listening in the form of the monologue speech, dialogue speech, and polylogue speech. All the tracks can be presented live or by the help of any media recordings (Ivanova, Ivanov and Filippova, 2019).

. It consists of the following kinds of changeable tasks: (1) reading for detail; (2) reading for specific information or scanning; (3) reading for skimming; (4) extensive reading. All the tasks are variable and can be replaced by different options.

. It involves various tasks for checking writing skills: (1) dictations; (2) essays; (3) different types of graph description (Ivanova, Ivanov and Lyashenko, 2016).

Speaking is arranged in the form of prepared / unprepared monologue / dialogue speech. At the same time, students demonstrate the advanced skills in speaking for them, the discussion based on the particular topic is proposed. This communication form is the nearest to the point if depicting speaking skills closest to the mother tongue.

The LUNN University possesses the internal Network environment. Network environment being a basis for a variable learning allows a student to build up his own higher education system, which includes as the subjects from the common educational program, adopted for all the course mates, so as the particular disciplines, suitable for only this learner.

Such changeable schooling is provided by the following passages:

(1) main educational program of higher professional education;

(2) additional courses, they usually consist of 4 studying units, which are proposed to the students by different university chairs and the “cost” 3 credits for a student;

(3) information network of a campus;

(4) network collaboration between the teachers of different universities.

All these items form a bank of educational resources and next, in the future, such variable learning will become the model of network interaction. And it must exert the influence on further development of higher education system not only in a particular country, but throughout the whole academic world.


Formation of a bank of educational resources for teaching students taking into account their level of language proficiency (Advanced, Upper-Intermediate, Intermediate, Pre-Intermediate, Elementary) influenced the educational system of the University and the development of the educational space of the region.

Online courses on various aspects of the language (literature, courses in professional languages, courses (circles) on a specific topic, etc.) allow implementing the Federal standard in the educational institution in all modes of variable educational programs.

Forms of extracurricular work with students in a foreign language (Discussion-Club, Professional-Club, Music-Club, Translation-Club, etc.) were activated that provided pedagogical support to each student, taking into account his personality.

The results of the research witness some great differences to be obvious at the training level, motivation among the present students and the students of previous years. They also show that the variable learning is more effective than the traditional one and allow students to be more successful by training.


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Ivanova, R., Ivanov, A., Nikonova, Z., & Kokhan, N. (2022). Framework And Differentiation In Teaching A Foreign Language To High School Students. In I. Savchenko (Ed.), Freedom and Responsibility in Pivotal Times, vol 125. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 401-409). European Publisher.