Supporting English Language Learners has become a growing need and concern within classrooms as the culture of our country grows and evolves. We asked our friends at Steps to Literacy if they could provide some support tips and tool suggestions for including ELL students.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, one in five school-aged children speak a language other than English at home – a figure that has more than doubled in the last three decades. Learning how to effectively communicate and instruct English Language Learners (ELLs) is a certainly not an easy task, especially for new teachers. Here are a few recommendations for accommodating ELLs in the mainstream classroom.
Learn About Your Students
Having an understanding of your students, their backgrounds, and previous educational experiences can go a long way in helping you assess their educational needs and how to best support them. If they are available to you, review school records and test scores. It may also be helpful to contact parents/guardians to become acquainted with the student’s values, strengths, and favorite activities.
Use Visuals and Manipulatives
Visual learning can be extremely effective for ELLs who have a difficult time processing spoken language. Support challenging vocabulary and concepts with images and manipulatives. Allowing your students to visualize your lesson content through actions, graphs, pictures and other visuals can help improve overall comprehension.
Encourage Group Work
It is important to create a secure and comfortable environment for ELLs. Create opportunities for group work where students can practice language skills with their peers in a less intimidating setting. In addition to strengthening their language skills, ELLs will observe how their peers learn, discuss, and problem-solve.
Choose Materials That Will Assist You
Selecting quality materials like books and phonemic resources can help ELLs develop strong reading, oral, and written language skills. Learn new words and phrases using dual-language texts that show both languages side-by-side during read-aloud or small-group lessons, or share twin pairings of titles for independent reading. Word walls that highlight basic words and phrases are also helpful for English and non-English students alike!
Reach Out To Your ELL/Bilingual Colleagues
Make it a point to open a line of communication with your ELL/bilingual colleagues. Talk about what’s going on in your classrooms and share what your students are learning about. While you may not be able to collaborate on lesson plans, they may have suggestions and resources that can help you!
Additional Support and Professional Development on ELL Students
If you are interested in learning more about supporting ELLs in the classroom, check out our newest S&S Online Learning Course “Including ELL Students in Literacy Instruction (K-5).” This course aims to support educators that work with students that are English Language Learners by providing them with information about ELL students, strategies for creating a welcoming environment, tools for meaningfully including students in literacy instruction, and guidance on connecting with limited-English speaking families.
Steps to Literacy also talked to us about their ELL Supported Classroom Library Collections. We’ve listed a preview of them below, you can visit their website here to learn more about them.