Supporting ELL Students
Some basic questions to self-assess whether or not you're meeting the needs of your ELL students:
- Do you post and review objectives and/or instructions daily?
- Do you provide images and examples?
- Do you allow students to work in groups?
- Do you provide sentence starters?
If you answered No to any of the above questions, I suggest you keep reading for details and examples. If you answered Yes and want more, keep reading.
Keep reading below to see specific examples of what you can do, and a variety of resources for download!
- Post instructions, objectives, and/or expectations - and make sure all students hear you say or read them.
- Provide models or worked examples - homework, writing, organization, and more.
- Use google images and clipart to provide a visual of high level words like "analyze," or culturally unique vocabulary like "animal pen."
- Provide students with a visual dictionary.
- Put important information and resources on color paper to help make sure students don't lose it, or to provide a visual later on to "get out your ___ paper" and hold it up!
- Show students what to do - for example when asking for a thumbs up or thumbs down, demonstrate with a thumbs up, or a thumbs down.
- Increase small group work minutes, instead of whole group direct instruction. When grouping EL students, place them with students of a similar level of language and allow them to speak in their native language if and whenever possible when working with other students.
- Be sensitive to EL grouping, allow students to partner or buddy up, and definitely sit these students in the front of the room, not out casting them to the back of the room.
- Engagement is key! When someone walks in your classroom, they should not be able to pick out who the ELLs are. They should not be working by themselves on something completely separate from everyone else, and should not be silent and disengaged, unwelcomed into the lesson or classroom.
- Frontload content and vocabulary. For example, translate things ahead of time, provide synonyms.
- Provide materials prior to instruction to both the student and the ELL support staff and teachers. It is extremely challenging for students to look up and down trying to copy a language that is foreign to them. And providing resources to teachers and aides ahead of time would allow them to cross out or re-word directions, add pictures, and much more.
- Provide sentence frames of varying levels, or perhaps even have some on the board or permanently up in the classroom and numbered so you can reference them, or place a star next to the one(s) that you recommend students use for specific instances.
- Create and use word banks with your students.
- Allow students to speak in their native language. Can you imagine going through the entire school day and saying nothing? Whenever possible, let them speak with someone of their same native language, even if it is non-academic.