Accommodations for ELL Students in Writing

Instructor: Sarah Mills

Sarah is an educational freelance writer and has taught English and ESL in grades k-12 and college. She has a master's degree in both Literacy and TESOL.

In this lesson, teachers will learn about some specific accommodations that they can provide for English Language Learner (ELL) students in their classroom. These accommodations will help ELL students acquire the necessary language skills to successfully produce written work in English.

Second Language Writing

Learning to write in another language can be a challenging endeavor, especially for those with very limited second language proficiency. In fact, writing is often one of the most difficult skills for ELL students to acquire. It makes sense; after all, would you be more successful at naming a few words in another language, such as Spanish, or at writing a paragraph in that language?

ELL students often receive accommodations to help them acquire language skills to succeed in school. Let's look at some common writing accommodations for ELL students.

Use of a Bilingual Dictionary

For writing assignments and assessments, allow ELL students to use a bilingual word-to-word dictionary that provides vocabulary words in their native language. This accommodation is typically useful for students who are literate in their first language, and who have at least an intermediate level of English proficiency.

Bilingual dictionaries can be helpful during writing practice, but it often takes a significant amount of time to look up unknown words in another language, and this can be a hindrance to student motivation. Additionally, while they provide word-to-word translations of vocabulary, dictionaries often don't teach students to use the correct form of the word. This can result in unclear writing. For these reasons, allow students to use bilingual dictionaries as a supplemental writing aid, and only if they actually want to use them.

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