Five ELL Resources for the Classroom

ALI Staff | Published  June 18, 2018

For a student who does not speak English as their first language, learning is an entirely different experience.

This is also true for the educators who instruct them.

ELL classrooms already had to work harder to reach learning goals, but this distinction became even more pronounced during the pandemic. This increased the need for resources for English language learners and their teachers.

These strategies for ELL play a critical role in assisting these students and bridging learning gaps.


Graphic of diverse group of students


ELL classrooms have the rare opportunity to thrive and capitalize during these times with strategies that can be easily implemented into all types of subjects and lesson plans.


Here are 5 resources for ELL students in the classroom:


1. Visual Aids and Graphic Organizers

Using visual aids to map out ideas and organize concepts is a simple and effective way to teach students with language barriers.

There are many digital and paper-based options that can be used to provide valuable simplicity.

For example, venn diagrams, concept maps, charts, flashcards, and more can be used to help students connect ideas about a topic.

Graphic organizers are especially effective when introducing new concepts. It is important not to overwhelm ELL students with too much information.

Breaking down ideas into smaller pieces is a great way to make connections to content standards and organize information in a way that makes sense. These graphic organizers are usually simple diagrams, like a KWL chart or with the addition of visual aids.

Visual aids, like pictures, enhance comprehension and assist in literacy for ELL students. Visual aids are also especially helpful when teaching vocabulary. A simple matching activity can be wildly effective in helping students remember definitions and concepts.

This can be easily modified for many languages and provides support for learners of all levels. 


2. Collaboration and Peer Support

Interacting naturally with ELL students is one of the best ways to include them in the classroom.

This could be a discussion they are included in during class or simple small talk about their day. This strategy assists the social-emotional learning of these students while they learn English and subject topics.

Another way to assist English language learners is to partner them with other students during assignments. Small groups or pairs can be extremely helpful and effective to assist comprehension for these students.

It is a bonus if there are bilingual students in the class that can help ELL students even more.

Not only does this give students a sense of belonging, it provides a great opportunity for them to interact with their peers and educational content in a natural and meaningful way.


3. Language Support Tools and Technology

One beneficial aspect of the pandemic is that many school districts around the country provided 1:1 technology, like tablets or laptops, to all students.

This allowed schools to continue learning which shifted most to digital platforms. While this was abrupt, it can now be used more effectively, especially for ELL students.

For example, translating tools that are embedded in laptops, tablets, and learning platforms make immediate translations for students.

Tools like the google translate chrome extension make it quick and easy to translate entire pages for students in their native language(s).

Digital platforms continue to expand and provide a plethora of options for English language learners which teachers should take advantage of when instructing this demographic. Paper based options are also available, such as bilingual dictionaries and thesauruses. These tools make translating material so much easier for both students and teachers of all subjects. 

At Accelerate Learning, we provide many STEM solutions as well as translated Spanish-aligned lessons, activities, and assignments that can be quickly printed or downloaded.

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4. Learning Games and Hands-On Learning

Games are a great way to get all students involved, including English language learners.

There are many platforms, both digital and paper-based, that can help students learn educational topics like math, science, ELA, and more.

These games are usually a fun and exciting way to get all students to participate in learning.

Paper-based options, like Tarsias, allow students to collaborate hands-on and piece together puzzles based on vocabulary terms.

More ESL resources for teachers include hands-on activities like art projects, lab experiments, and manipulatives.

These kinesthetic games and activities allow ELL students to increase their comprehension and literacy skills on various topics by creating.

These activities align with subject standards and help ELL students be more well-rounded when learning content. 


5. One-on-One Support

When possible, utilize one-on-one support from certified specialists to provide in-depth support and assistance for ELL students.

These educators are often called paraeducators, para, instructional assistants, educational assistant, teacher's aide or classroom assistant.

These specialists are fully educated and trained to provide resources for ELL students in the classroom. These instructors can provide small group or individual instruction to make sure the student(s) are comprehending the material like native English-speaking students.

These instructors are often bilingual in many languages and provide immense support for general education teachers.

While every class may not receive this type of support, it is typical for there to be at least one paraprofessional at elementary and secondary public schools around the country.

Every school and district is different so it is important to understand that staffing is not the same situation at every school.

When one-on-one support is available, it is so helpful for general classroom teachers to collaborate and work together to provide the best experience possible for ELL students. 


Strategies for english language learners

The integration of these five essential ELL resources and strategies into the classroom setting equips teachers with powerful tools to enhance English language learning.

Bilingual dictionaries, language collaboration, and one-on-one support offer structured content and individualized practice, while visual aids and online resources cater to diverse learning styles.

These resources help educators scaffold instruction effectively, create engaging lessons, and meet the unique needs of English Language Learners.

By leveraging these valuable assets, teachers can inspire language acquisition, foster cross-cultural understanding, and empower their ELL students on their path to linguistic proficiency and academic success.


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