Linguistic Accommodations for ELL Students

Instructor: Jennifer Garcia O'Neill

Jennifer has taught ELL classes more than 10 years and has her Master's of Education in ESL.

Wondering how to support your ELL students while taking assessments? In this lesson, you will learn about different types of linguistic accommodations for ELL students and an explanation of what type of support they provide.

Linguistic Accommodations for ELL Students

ELL students can benefit from linguistic accommodations. This means the student receives special support on federal, state, and/or local assessments. The purpose of the support is to help the student overcome language challenges. When considering linguistic accommodations, it is important to consider the needs of the individual student. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Many states have guidelines for what types of accommodations ELL students are able to receive. English language proficiency exams such as ACCESS for ELLs (Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners) are often used to determine whether or not an ELL student qualifies to receive accommodations. Also, states might have guidelines for determining on which tests ELL students can receive accommodations. Continue reading to learn about some of the possible linguistic accommodations.


There are different types of dictionaries an ELL student can use. One is a bilingual dictionary, in which the words are listed in English and in the student's native language. Another type is a picture dictionary, in which the English word is accompanied by a picture. These dictionaries are often arranged by theme or topic. The final type is the ESL dictionary. In this resource, the words and definitions are listed in English; however, the definition is written in simplified English.

Clarification of English Word

In this accommodation, ELL students may request help with words they do not understand. The word could be explained in simpler terms through the use of pictures or gestures. However, assistance is only limited to the word and should not give away the answer.

Oral Translation

An ELL student using this type of accommodation can request the translation of an individual word. The exact translation of the word must be provided, without additional explanations or clues about the word's meaning. The translation is provided orally, not in writing.

Modified English

ELL students might benefit from completing an alternative version of the assessment. In this version, the test is written in simplified English, which means basic vocabulary is used and grammar structures are less complex.

Students working
Students working

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account