As we continue to become a more diverse nation with students from all over the globe, supporting a classroom filled with bilingual and second language learners has never been more important. There are many strategies that help to promote a classroom environment that is welcoming to all types of learners. Becoming familiar with tactics to assist English language learners will ensure that all students have the opportunity to be successful and to reach their individual learning targets, which is the ultimate goal of education, right?
Here are nine general tips of how teachers can support English language learners to be prosperous in the mainstream classroom.
Visuals: This is such a simple addition to make and can be beneficial for ALL learners. Whenever feasible, including pictures, videos, or real-life examples related to the content can be an extremely effective way for students to better absorb the material being taught. This adds context, which many students need to fully understand new information.
Input: The term input is one that is used abundantly in the ESL world. Input simply stated is the language that we process for meaning—it is the language that a learner hears or reads and is one of the most common ways that we acquire new words and phrases. It is important to ensure our input is comprehensible and that we talk with our students rather than at them in order for language to be effectively attained.
Translanguaging: Allow your students to use their native language. It can help learners to better express their ideas and answers and is a necessary building block while transitioning from their first to second language. Scaffolding learners in this way can support learners in acquiring more content when they are able to utilize their languages in one cohesive communication system, this is known as translanguaguing.
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Plan Ahead: Give students assignments earlier or provide additional resources related to the content you plan to cover in class. This will give students the opportunity to prepare and become familiar with the content before it is actually taught, allowing the students to be more successful during the lesson.
Discussion Structures: Provide various discussion formats in the classroom for all students to have the chance to actively participate. For example, some students may feel uncomfortable speaking in a large group so providing small group discussion can make these conversations more meaningful. Every group of students are unique so seeing what methods will be most successful for your students and their personalities is important.
The SIOP Model: The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol Model is a method used for addressing the academic needs of ELL students in the United States. The model has eight components to support teachers in providing rich, effective instructional language practices for learners.
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Think Alouds: This is a method that models for learners how to make sense and gather meaning from a text. Modeling Think Alouds supports students in acquiring strategies such as making predications, inferences, summarizing main ideas, and making connections to the text.
Differentiate Instruction: As a teacher should do with all students, diversify teaching strategies! All students learn differently so our instructional practices should accurately reflect this.
Know Your Students: Students pick up on our cues and they can tell if we really care. Take the time to learn about each individual student including his or her background, interests, and strengths. When we invest in our students their possibilities for success are infinite.
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