5 Ways to Support ELLs in Your Classroom


ELLs, or English language learners, have an extra challenge in our classrooms. Not only do they need to learn the curriculum, but they also have to simultaneously learn English. There are several helpful strategies that we can employ to assist ELLs on their journey. 1. Use Visuals Visuals can help explain vocabulary words and give context to a lesson. Use relevant visuals along with oral explanations to boost comprehension for ELLs, students who struggle with vocabulary, and visual learners. ​ 2. Use Small Groups to Practice Conversation Before asking a ELL to answer in front of the class, give them a chance to discuss the question with a partner or small group. This allows them to practice their answer and speaking skills in a low risk situation. 3. Pre-teach Vocabulary Academic lessons can contain vocabulary words that ELLs do not hear in normal social situations. Pre-teaching these vocabulary words can make understanding a lesson much easier for ELLs. Focus on key vocabulary words that you believe the specific students in your class may not have encountered before. Explain the words using visuals and easy to understand definitions. Be sure to also provide examples of the word being used in context. You can teach the vocabulary words with your ELLs one on one, in a small group, or simply begin a whole class lesson by explaining the unfamiliar vocabulary (which will benefit all students, not just ELLs). 4. State a Purpose For Reading/ Listening Whenever your class will be reading a text, watching a video or listening to a speaker, be sure to state a purpose for listening. For example if you could say: "While we are reading I want you to listen for why Mike got in trouble at school." or "While you watch this video I want you to find 3 facts about the water cycle." Stating a focus before reading, watching or listening provides ELLs with context and helps them filter out unimportant details that could impede their comprehension. 5. Provide Structured Notes Providing graphic organizers, fill in the blank notes, and sentence stems can help ELLs understand what they are hearing during a lesson. You can create a simple graphic organizer by folding a piece of paper and labeling each section with a topic that will be important during the lesson. All of these strategies are not only beneficial to ELLs, they can help increase comprehension and retention of all students in your classroom. What strategies do you use to help ELLs in your class? Let me know in the comments below.

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