Strategies for Teaching ELL Students

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  • 0:04 Engaging ELLs
  • 1:06 Use Pictures & Visuals
  • 2:11 Focus on Vocabulary
  • 2:38 Scaffold Instruction
  • 3:03 Create Small Learning Groups
  • 4:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Marquis Grant

Marquis has a Doctor of Education degree.

This lesson will highlight strategies that can be used to help English Language Learners in the classroom, such as the use of pictures and small groups. A short quiz will follow to test your knowledge of methods for teaching ELL students.

Engaging ELLs

An English Language Learner (ELL) is someone who has had limited or no exposure to the English language - someone whose primary language is not English. While it is mistakingly assumed that only Spanish-speaking children are ELLs, the label can apply to children who are French, Asian, African or any other nationality or culture.

As more students who speak other languages enter classrooms, it becomes more necessary than ever to find strategies and ideas that will help them become successful. Not only are these students, in many cases, struggling to learn a new language, but they may be experiencing challenges keeping up academically with their peers. By dedicating a little more time and effort, teaching ELLs can be done successfully.

When looking for ways to differentiate or vary your instruction so that all students benefit from the lesson, including your ELL students, you may want to consider strategies such as the following: using pictures, creating a print-rich environment, focusing on vocabulary, scaffolding instruction, and creating small groups.

Use Pictures and Visuals

Using pictures and visuals may sound like a pretty basic idea but you will be amazed at how helpful it will be in getting ideas across to your ELL students. Children come into the classroom from different backgrounds, so you should not assume anything. Using visual aids like pictures and charts will give your students support for learning and assist them in acquiring the language more quickly by allowing them to associate certain words and ideas with a picture.

Create a Print-Rich Environment

As much as possible, you should label everything in the classroom so that students can become familiar with words associated with common, everyday objects. For example, if your class includes Spanish-speaking children, you may want them to become familiar with the word 'books.' You would create a sign (maybe using construction paper) with the word 'books' printed on it in English, and beside it you would write the Spanish word for books so that it appears as books/libros. You could do the same thing for computers (computers/computadoras), door (door/puerta), and any other objects in the classroom that are used most frequently.

Focus on Vocabulary

Exposure to as much vocabulary as possible is probably the single most important strategy that you should use as a teacher of students who are learning the English language. Because vocabulary varies with each subject area, you should spend at least five to ten minutes a day explicitly reinforcing vocabulary that will be used throughout your lesson. Explicit instruction could include defining key vocabulary terms, using them in a sentence, and providing a picture that can be associated with the word.

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