7 Teaching Strategies for English Language Learners

Posted by Tahlea Jankoski on June 27, 2018



How prepared do educators feel to teach English Language Learners? Most teachers have little or no training on effective teaching strategies for ELL students.  This makes it challenging for a teacher to help integrate ELL students into the regular classroom setting. Fortunately, a variety of ELL instructional strategies are available for educators. 

Here are seven different strategies teachers can ensure are being used in the classroom to support ELL students. In fact, these strategies benefit every student in the class (both English speaking and ELL) to become more engaged in learning. 

Model behavior

Before starting a new activity or lesson, demonstrate to the class how it should be done. By combining the actions with your verbal explanation, students will more easily comprehend the lesson and feel more confident in completing the activity. 

Instead of standing and lecturing in front of the class with limited visual aids, use non-verbal cues, gestures, and visuals to provide greater comprehension for each student. 

Use summary frames

Summary or sentence frames are a great way to hep each student practice conversational skills and learn language structure. Teachers write out partially completed sentences and have each student fill in the blank. 

Add in group learning projects

By offering small group activities, students will be more engaged in classroom curriculum and easily apply what they are learning. This is true for both English speaking and ELL students as they interact with their peers to problem solve and find solutions. Plus, ELL students may feel less risk when in practicing language skills when they are in a small group setting with their peers. 

All for wait time 

As you ask students a question, offer some wait time before calling on someone to answer. This gives all the students, especially ELL students, an opportunity to process the question and think about the answer. 

To make sure students are understanding what has been asked or requested, teachers can ask  the class to give a thumbs up if they understand, or thumbs down if they don't understand. It's important for the teacher to help students recognize that it is okay if they do not understand. 

Introduce vocabulary activities

Every student in the classroom needs to learn new academic vocabulary related to the curriculum. By providing repeated encounters with specific words and helping students remember the definition, both English speaking and ELL students can build their vocabulary. 

Avoid constant correction 

Frequently correcting ELL students who are trying to speak English in class can lower their confidence in learning English. It is best to write down the student's mistakes and speak with them later to explain where they need to make corrections. 

Encourage students with home study

Learning to read at home can help ELL students excel in their language skills. Teachers who encourage students by providing a variety of reading materials that interest the student can help them feel motivated to read at home. 

Reach out to ELL teachers 

When possible, other teachers can speak with an ELL specific coach or an instructor to learn how each student is performing in the other ELL class. This can help educators learn how to help their ELL students integrate into the regular classroom setting. 


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