• Welcoming the English Language Learner


    The classroom/content area teacher plays a vital role in the education of English Language Learners. Newcomers need the benefits of social integration in mainstream classrooms and a fully productive day. While the ESL class offers specific language instruction, these students are aiming toward full participation in your classes.  Therefore, your role as the regular education teacher is to adapt the curriculum to meet the specific educational needs of the English Language Learners within your classroom.


    Many ELLs are unfamiliar with our educational system and behavior expectations.  Most students have come from schools in which classes are very large (50), teachers are strict, and corporal punishment often follows infractions of rules and students’ failure to produce satisfactory results on assignments.


    Newcomer ELLs are quick to notice that there are more freedoms here than in their home schools. These differences can cause confusion for the students, and they may test the limits of accepted behaviors or model inappropriate behaviors.  Students need to understand the school’s rules and behavioral expectations.


    English Language Learners at the elementary level will benefit from the language learning strategies outlined in the Language Arts Continuum.  This approach to language and literacy development is excellent for English Language Learners.  The CAN DO Descriptors and Assessments are used to place the ELL at an appropriate level on the continuum.  The ESOL teacher in your building can help determine proper placement.



    Provide language the student can understand in authentic, meaningful contexts.
    • Simplify teacher talk
    • Speak slowly, but in a natural manner
    • Articulate clearly; emphasize key words
    • Explain vocabulary, unfamiliar expressions, and slang     
    • Paraphrase ideas
    • Use frequent comprehension and clarification checks
    • Focus on concrete rather than abstract concept
    • Use nonverbal language, such as gestures and facial expressions to convey meaning
    • Use visual and contextual clues
    • Increase wait time for student response  
    • Focus on meaning, not grammar
    • Provide verbal and nonverbal feedback as encouragement
    • Use manipulatives, visuals, and real objects  
    • Use taped stories and text in listening centers
    • Allow students to write a journal in their native language
    • Give alternate assignments
    • Illustrate content material     
    • Write the meaning of words in their own language     
    • Locate and underline words in a reading selection
    • For every activity, consider what is reasonable for the student to do.



    Create a comfortable, stress-free environment

    • Learn how to pronounce the student’s name.  Practice using it.  Learn how to say “hi” in his or her language
    • Show genuine interest in the students, their language, and their culture
    • Allow students to express their ideas in their native languages in the early stage of language learning
    • Avoid forcing students to speak until ready
    • Accept language errors as a natural part of language learning
    • Reinforce student progress   
    • Promote friendships/classroom buddies
    • Label classroom objects in both languages or make flashcards
    • Play board games that require little verbal language
    • Find a student translator who speaks the same language as your ESL student

    Maximize students’ exposure to natural communication in the classroom

    • Establish a consistent routine
    • Actively engage students in challenging learning activities
    • Use interactive, cooperative learning activities to develop language
    • Use concrete, hands-on activities before abstract activities
    • Have common conversations daily (Eg.  How are you?  How was your weekend? What did you do over the weekend?)


Last Modified on March 1, 2018