August 16, 2022

Teaching English Language Learners in your classroom – What every ESL teacher should know!

Are you ready to be an amazing ESL teacher this year for the English Language Learners in your classroom? 


This is the second in a three-part series focusing on teaching English Language Learners. This post is filled with ESL teacher tips to help your ELLs with reading skills.

 

Check out part 1 focusing on listening and speaking skills and part 3 is upcoming and it's all about writing and grammar.

 

Keep reading for activities and games for the English Language Learners in your classroom.

 

A quick review of language skills for teaching ELLs

 

The four basic language skills are listening, speaking, reading, and writing, with many teachers also including grammar as a fifth. I agree! 

 

Educational achievement for ELLs requires proficiency in all five skills so these basic language skills are must-haves! But often must-haves aren’t the most fun but you’re in luck because this post suggests activities and games for your daily lessons to incorporate some or all of the skills to build fluency and language competency. This combination is the key to academic success for the English Language Learners in your classroom.


Focus on reading instruction for the newcomer, intermediate, and advanced English Language Learners in your classroom with these fun and engaging activities. Ideas for ESL teachers who are new to the career or established teachers looking for new ideas and activities for the English Language Learners in your classroom.
 

So let’s dive into how to teach reading skills.

 

Teaching English Language Learners: Reading skills

 

Building reading skills requires amazing ESL teachers to teach and practice this skill with their students. So it’s important to find ways to incorporate this into a variety of activities for the English Language Learners in your classroom.

 

Reading skills are the phonetic aspect of a language. We know there are five aspects of reading:

1. Phonemic awareness

2. Phonics

3. Vocabulary

4. Reading comprehension

5. Fluency

 

These aspects of reading are interconnected and must be developed in full to create success in reading for ELLs.

 

ELLs need special instruction in reading. 

 

Start with Phonemic awareness 

Make sure your ELLs can identify and manipulate the 41 phonemes in English. I use songs, tongue twisters, chants, poems and rhymes. Practice and repetition is the name of the game here!

 

Phonics, phonics, phonics!  

Teach your students how to produce the sounds of the alphabet, create the sounds of the blends and understand the intricacies of those sounds that a native speaker produces without thought. Think of the 3 different sounds of ed. Native speakers can produce them easily, while these sounds need to be specifically taught to ELLs.

 

Be aware of which English sounds are in the native language of your students and which sounds are not. Special instruction and practice is necessary for all the new sounds your ELLs will need to learn.

 

Vocabulary teaching ideas and vocabulary activities for ELLs in your ESL classroom. Teaching tips for reading activities that include vocabulary.

Vocabulary is a must

Many ELLs do not have a high level of English in the home. Vocabulary, especially academic vocabulary is a must to teach. 

 

Focus on word clusters and related words. I love vocabulary expansion because students can see how a word changes from verb to noun to adjective and many times to adverb. 

 

  • Use pictures and visuals when introducing new words. 

  • Practice, practice, practice. 

  • Offer kid friendly definitions. 

 

Make learning vocabulary fun with games and activities. One of my favorite ways to teach math vocabulary is to tape a picture with the word and meaning to the back of each of my chairs. After students sit down they have to read the word and the meaning to the class. 

 

Looking to expand your math resources for the English Language Learners in your classroom? Check out these multiplication timed tests to help with math fluency.

 

Reading fluency

Fluency is best achieved with lots of reading and hearing and seeing books and more books! Listening to fluent readers is a great model for ELLs. Audio books and reading with older students engage young students. 

 

Read-aloud, read along, repeated readings and listening to songs, poems, and books should be included every day with every ELL. Rereading short texts and then recording and listening to themselves help ELLs read more fluently. Songs help students’ fluency by re-reading the song and singing the lyrics while reading them. ELLs need to hear and read hundreds of books each school year. 

 

Reading activities or station ideas for English Language Learners who are newcomers or more experienced with English as a second language. These ideas will help in teaching reading to English Language Learners in your classroom.

Teaching reading skills can be FUN! Here are a few of my ideas:

 

Reading Fluency Stations: Students rotate through each station to record their reading. 

  • Read it like a mouse

  • Read it like a monster

  • Read it like a robot

  • Read to a stuffed bear

  • Read with funny glasses

  • Read into a phonics phone

  • Read with a flashlight

  • Read with a stopwatch

  • Read to a buddy

 

Sentence Punctuation: Students read sentences while changing the ending punctuation. I write these on sentence strips and hang them on the wall for students to read…

  • My dog likes to bark.

  • My dog likes to bark?

  • My dog likes to bark!

 

Sentence Pyramids: Students start at the top and repeat down the list. The repetition helps with their memory and the practice helps with their fluency and comfort.

  • The

  • The garden

  • The garden grows

  • The garden grows many

  • The garden grows many types

  • The garden grows many types of

  • The garden grows many types of flowers.



Reading activities for English Language Learners in your classroom. Variety of activities to practice reading skills, including using sentence pyramids in your reading lessons for ELLs.


Using these ideas with the English Language Learners in your classroom will mean you are well on your way to becoming an amazing ESL teacher this year. And you can be amazing without worrying about planning all of the lessons all of the time! Check out these bundles whether you have newcomers, intermediate, or advanced ELLs!

 

I hope you found an educational nugget or two that you can use this year with your ELLs! And don’t forget to check out part 1 in this series all about listening and speaking skills

 

Be Bold!

Be Great!

Be Amazing!

 

Your partner in ESL!

Lori 

 

 

Happy Teaching!




August 8, 2022

Teaching English Language Learners – What every ESL teacher should know!

Are you ready to be an amazing ESL teacher this year? 

 

If you’re reading this, I’m here to tell you that you probably already are! 

 

But keep on reading because this post with all of its ESL teacher tips will get you to the top of your game as the school year happens. This post, the first in a three-part series, focuses on listening and speaking skills and the next two will explore reading and then writing and grammar.

 

Since you’re ready to learn, let’s get started!

 

What are language skills?


The four basic language skills are listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Many teachers include grammar as a fifth language skill. I agree! Educational achievement for ELLs requires proficiency in all 5 of these skills. If you teach ELLs then these basic language skills should be at the very heart of your instruction. Using activities and games in your daily lessons that incorporate some or all of the 5 communication skills builds fluency and language competency. This is the key to academic success.

 

An overview of language skills for teaching English Language Learners in your classroom.


How do we teach these skills to English Language Learners? That is the big question. Let’s take a look at each individual skill, starting with listening and speaking

Teaching English Language Learners: Listening Skills 

 

Building listening skills requires amazing ESL teachers to regularly teach and practice this skill with their students.

 

Listening skills are the semantic aspect of a language and start with the ability to distinguish sounds, words and sentences. Discriminating sounds are the foundation to reading and writing. ELLs need to learn more than just the sounds of English. The complexities of good listening need to be taught in order to extract meaning, analyze what they have heard and be able to reply, discuss, or argue the information given.

 

ELLs need to be able to gain meaning from listening. They need to learn the protocol of being a good listener. ELLs need to develop the ability of careful listening and the capacity to maintain that listening in a second (or 3rd) language.


Teaching listening skills can be FUN! And you can be amazing without worrying about planning all of the lessons all of the time! Check out these bundles whether you have newcomers, intermediate, or advanced ELLs!

 

Teaching tips and activities for English Language Learners focused on listening skills in ESL class. With suggestions for games and activities to keep your ELL students engaged in everyday class activities.


Teaching listening skills can be FUN! Here are 5 ideas for teaching English Language Learners in your class:

  • Play board games that focus on reading and listening. One student reads a word, short phrase, or sentence depending on language level. The player must repeat exactly what was said. If the response is correct, the player rolls the dice and moves her/his game piece. With more advanced language students use a paragraph or short article and have the player paraphrase the article.
  • Play music and have students raise their hand or stand up each time they hear a predetermined word in a song.
  • Play listen and do games.
  • Dictation where students write down exactly what the teacher says. This is harder than you think! 
  • Information transfer is a great listening skills activity. Present information orally. Students represent what they heard by making a drawing/picture, chart, or table. You can use this activity in reverse to develop oral skills!


Teaching English Language Learners: Speaking Skills


Oral/Speaking skills require amazing ESL teachers to teach and practice specific lessons and activities with their students.

 

Speaking skills are the phonetic aspect of a language and include what conversation looks and sounds like, including what each person will do. 

 

Although vocabulary and grammar are the foundation of speaking, ELLs need to learn the behavioral differences of conversations, debate, informal and formal language. Students need instruction on how to verbally ask questions, explanations, make requests, express their feelings, and disagree. The intricacies between these communications not only include grammatical forms but extends to intonation, stress, pitch, and pronunciation. Teaching English Language Learners when and how to use or not use idioms and figurative language is also imperative to include in oral and written lessons.

 

Using situational learning to teach oral language skills for teaching English Language Learners in your classroom.

ELLs should be instructed on how to conduct themselves in formal and informal situations including when and where to use casual speech patterns such as; you know, so, I mean, right and kind of. Semantics is more than the literal meanings of words. Semantics reveals the culture and community by revealing subtle connotations in a unique manner. I always teach my oral language lessons by language function. We talk about where we would use this type of language and what the situation might be.

 

Teaching speaking skills can be FUN! Here are 8 of my favorite activities for developing oral language: 

  • Games that promote oral language
  • Storytelling
  • Reader’s theater
  • Role Play 
  • Students love to use computers. Have them video themselves giving a short introduction, giving directions, talking about what they did the night before or will do tomorrow.
  • Who is it? Great for teaching how to ask questions. Students write facts about themselves and turns it into the teacher. The teacher reads random facts and the students question each other to determine who wrote the fact.
  • I have never…
  • Describing pictures of objects or events. Great for compare and contrast language if you have 2 pictures that are similar!


ESL teacher tips to help with teaching the English Language Learners in your classroom. Use these activities for back-to-school, during the first days of school, or during the school year.

Two ESL teacher tips to ensure success are to make sure to keep the affective filters low in your classroom so students feel comfortable speaking and to scaffold your speaking lessons using sentence frames and vocabulary word walls. 

And the best ESL teacher tip of all is to check out this mega bundle of activities that focuses on all four language skills!

 

Congratulations you are on your way to becoming an amazing ESL teacher this year. I hope you found an educational nugget or two that you can use this year teaching English Language Learners in your class!


Be Bold!

Be Great!

Be Amazing!

 

Your partner in ESL!

Lori


Happy Teaching!



August 2, 2022

The Art of Teaching English Language Learners!

 

Quotation from Albert Einstein about the art of teaching in sparking joy.

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.

― Albert Einstein

 

I might edit dear Einstein just a bit to indicate “art of the ESL teacher” instead! Because isn’t it true that what we do as English as a Second Language (ESL) or English Language Development (ELD) teachers is an art to awaken joy in our students? Whether you are the content teacher or the ESL teacher teaching English language learners in your classroom the goal is to encourage and to support students, and ultimately - hopefully - to awaken joy. 


There are many ways you can do that! Read on for some tried and true strategies and activities for English Language Learners (ELLs) in your classroom.  


The 4 D’s of Teaching English Language Learners


What are English language learners? The 4Ds of demographics, definitions, decrees, and development included below provide the parameters and background definitions for teaching English language learners.


Demographics

Did you know that English language learners (ELLs) comprise approximately 10.4% of the students in the United States Public Schools K-12? That's over 5.1 million students! That percentage can be substantially higher depending on where you are in the US but it goes to show that no matter where you teach, there are likely ELLs in your school and your classroom (IES National Center for Education Statistics).  


There are approximately 5.1 million English Language Learners in US Public Schools, which is about 10% of learners.

Definitions

Although each state creates its own definition, the federal government defines an ELL as a student who comes from a language background other than English and whose limited comprehension of English is sufficient to create academic difficulties. The Office of Civil Rights says “ELL: English language learner. A national-origin-minority student who is limited-English-proficient.” This term (ELL) is often preferred over limited-English-proficient (LEP) as it highlights accomplishments rather than deficits.


Decrees

In 1970, the federal Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a memo regarding school districts' responsibilities under civil rights law to provide an equal educational opportunity to ELLs. This memorandum stated:

Where the inability to speak and understand the English language excludes national origin minority group children from effective participation in the educational program offered by a school district, the district must take affirmative steps to rectify the language deficiency in order to open its instructional program to these students.

 

Development

Team work always makes the dream work! Classroom teachers are responsible for the content learning of their ELLs. English Language Development teachers are responsible for English proficiency. More specifically, ESL or ELD teaches the English that students need to be successful in schools but will not learn during the rest of their school day for any number of reasons. Read more about the responsibilities of both teachers with this free short essay.

 

English Language Learners Teaching Strategies


Here are some tried and true strategies for both content teachers and ESL teachers to help effectively reach and teach second language learners. These are strategies that can be included with any number of activities that you might be doing in your classroom already. 


The 4 Modalities: Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking


The image focuses on 4 modalities for teaching English Language Learners in your classroom. These include reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The grid of images features ELL student activities with reading books, writing responses, and speaking and listening together in pairs.



Content teacher: Reading and writing provide the bulk of instruction with speaking as the culminating event: a speech or presentation.  

ESL teacher: Speaking provides the bulk of instruction with writing usually as the culminating event. 


Student Interaction

We know this to be true that kids need to talk! Being able to use language in day-to-day situations with other learners is a necessity for language development and reinforcement. Consider a trip to the library or the school office as a way to change space and provide more chances for a variety of authentic interactions that require different vocabulary. 


Content teacher: Provide authentic opportunities for your student to express their learning with others in the classroom and school. 


ESL teacher: Provide structured language practice that practices specific structures in English. 

 

Image features two children in an elementary school looking forward with happy smiles on their faces. A text overlay of we know this to be true that kids need to talk appears on the left-side.


Routine

Create a predictable learning environment. Students are ready to learn when they know the schedule. This year-long bundle features a full year planning guide that is organized month-to-month with a variety of lessons, games, and activities for all levels of learners.  This teacher-friendly bundle will not only establish clear routines in class it will save you hours of work so you can focus on in-class support for your students! 


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Year-long curriculum with lesson plans, activities, and more for ESL curriculum, newcomers, and all ELL level learners.

 

Content teacher: Set a schedule and stick to it. Teach routines and procedures. 

 

ESL teacher: With well-rehearsed routines and procedures, your students will be ready to learn and you will make the most from your precious ESL time. 


Classification

Our brains are pattern seekers. This means that as new information is absorbed it is being combined with previous knowledge. The brain wants to bring these parts together so it is a great idea to incorporate new material with older previously learned material. Consider your students’ background knowledge before diving into something new; not just of the lesson but the activity and its components too!


Content teacher: Graphic organizers are the best of the best practices. Use them as often as you can! This also ties into routine in that providing similar organizers for different tasks will increase students’ comfort over time.


ESL teacher: Organize your instruction by function, form, and classes (vehicles, bathroom vocabulary, prepositions). When the classification is built in, students have a framework for the new vocabulary and grammar structures. 

 

Visuals and Manipulatives

Concrete and image-based teaching make the content accessible to ELLs. This is tied to experiential learning in that experience- or task-based learning aids in the transfer of knowledge.

 

Content teacher: Use math manipulative materials, word walls with pictures, real objects (realia), provide pictorial cues along with word cues, graphics, maps, photos, word banks, and more. 

 

ESL teacher: Make it visual. Oral language development and visuals go hand and hand. This is also a great opportunity for student ownership. Students can create the visuals whether that is 2D on paper to create a display or 3D with manipulatives or even online with recordings of students’ oral contributions. 

 

English Language Learners activities that include manipulative materials, word walls with pictures, or other visuals are beneficial for language development in students learning a second language. This image features an ELD teacher or content teacher with students guiding a hands-on activity for students in a classroom.


Native Language

Most ELL students are not starting their education journey from scratch when they arrive in your classroom. They will have school experience and knowledge that exists in their native language so encourage the use of their native language when possible. 

 

If you have ESL Newcomers then check out this bundle of activities to free up your ELL planning time. It has everything you need in one place to provide a solid English foundation. With easy differentiated options, you can get your beginning ESL students learning right away with these activities!

 

Content teacher: Partner same language students to help with translation, send homework in the native language, when possible, to connect school and home. 

 

ESL teacher: Cognates, cognates, cognates. Also, see which idioms occur in both English and the student's native language. This is a great opportunity to incorporate visuals too!

 

Teaching English Language Learners is a team effort. When the content teacher and the ESL teacher collaborate great things happen for English Language Learners in your classroom. Incorporating any number of these six strategies and suggested activities will encourage engagement, support learning, and most of all “awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”

Happy Teaching!

Here are tried-and-true strategies for content teachers and ESL teachers for ELL students in their classroom. The post include lessons, activities, and ideas to help support all students!



Check out these related articles:

Teaching English Language Learners in your classroom – What every ESL teacher should know!

Are you ready to be an amazing ESL teacher this year for the English Language Learners in your classroom?  This is the second in a three-par...