Adaptations & Accommodations for ELL Students in Reading

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 strategies for adapting materials and providing accommodations to English Language Learner (ELL) students. The lesson discusses classroom accommodations and text adaptations.

Promoting Literacy

The first step toward accommodating ELL students in reading is to promote reading! Some ways to get students reading include:

  • Create a classroom library or reading area that is rich with diverse, interesting texts.
  • Give students time to independently read high-interest texts during class.
  • Invite parents and guardians to special events that give them strategies for encouraging reading at home.

Now let's take a closer look at some ways to accommodate ELL students in classroom reading and to adapt the texts they use.

Classroom Accommodations

ELL students should be provided equitable access to the curriculum through the use of accommodations. Some accommodations to provide for ELL students in reading include reduced reading load, vocabulary instruction, pre-reading strategies, graphic organizers, and reading strategies.

Reduced Reading Load

One way to accommodate for ELL students' lack of proficiency is to reduce the reading requirement. Keep in mind that it takes a lot of effort to try to decode and comprehend unknown words in another language. Therefore, if you ask students to read a book for homework, ELL students may get through only a couple of pages, and that's okay.

Vocabulary Instruction

It's important to spend time on explicit vocabulary instruction with ELL students. Before reading, preview the text to see which vocabulary words may be essential to understanding, and take time to teach them. You can have students collaborate on word sorts or you can have them draw pictures to illustrate the words.

Pre-Reading Strategies

Engage students in pre-reading strategies to help set the stage for their reading. You can do a picture walk with students by asking them to make predictions about the text based only on the pictures.

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