Here are 7 key teaching strategies that provide an effective learning environment for ELLs:
1. Provide ELLs with comprehensible input.
Stephen Krashen, a second language linguist, shares that ELLs acquire language by hearing and understanding information that is slightly above their current English language level. Therefore, educators need to include the students in lessons that challenge them, speak more slowly, and use gestures and body language to convey meaning to ELLs.
2. Make lessons visual.
It is vital for educators to use visual representations for ELLs. Using only auditory language does not allow ELLs to make meaningful connections.
3. Link new information to prior knowledge.
It is important that educators realize that ELLs are not “blank slates”.
4. Determine key concepts and objectives.
For each lesson, educators need to consider both content objectives, as well as, language objects. List key ideas or main points that the ELLs should acquire.
5. Modify vocabulary.
Educators must not take for granted that ELLs may not know the meaning of the simplest words. Therefore, educators need to provide direct instruction of new vocabulary and provide more exposure to English. Remember, learning a new language is a social activity.
6. Use cooperative learning strategies.
Lecture style teaching excludes ELLs from learning in a classroom. ELLs should not be separated from the group working on an alternative activity. It is important for educators to adapt their lessons so that ELLs can be active participants. The following list provides a few strategies that may be implemented.
· Use pictures to assess vocabulary
· Have students draw concepts
· Ask students to point to the correct answer
· Ask students to paraphrase concepts
· Allow students to explain orally
· Allow oral reports instead of written ones
· Have students role play
· Allow students to record concepts in a graphic organizer or in a list instead of an essay
· Provide a word bank
· Have students create a poster
· Use a project for assessment
· Use pair and group reports
· Review student journals and notes
· Maintain reading journals or logs
· Allow the use of a bilingual dictionary
· Don’t correct all the errors. Mark 5-10 items and leave the rest
· Underline errors and let students ask a partner for help
7. Modify testing and homework for ELLs.
Content area homework and assessments need to be modified for ELLs to be successful. Teachers should allow alternative types of assessments. Homework and assessments should be directly linked to classroom instruction and students should be provided with study guides or examples so that they know what to study.
· Allow students to use their textbooks and a bilingual dictionary
· Give students fewer questions (only even or odd)
· Circle key questions
· Allow extra time
· At the secondary level, ask the ESOL teacher if a student can complete a test in the ESOL classroom
· Read the instructions out loud
· Check students after a few minutes of test taking to make sure that they understand the instructions and are on track
· Teach test-taking skills and practice on sample items throughout instruction
· Supplement tests with other measures of content understanding such as observation,participation, and alternative assignments
· Read tests
· Allow students to respond orally
· Review tests ahead of time, looking for difficult language and cultural bias
· Provide word banks
· Give the test in sections
· Minimize the use of negative questions
· Give take-home tests or allow students to preview questions
· Review scored test, check for understanding, and retest.