Engaging ELL Students in the Regular Classroom
Jan 8, 2016 English Language Learning (ELL) 2015 Views
Classroom demographics change ever year. Changes in the typical classroom mirror changes in society. The National Center for Education Statistics reported that nearly 10% of all US students actively participate in an English Language Learning (ELL) program.
Whether you are a veteran teacher, or a brand new one, you will need resources to help students who are not proficient in English or are current ELLs. Regardless of your methodology, helping ELLs to acclimatize to regular classroom instruction requires not just skill, but also charisma and creativity. Here are some tips that will help ease this process.
1. Tag and Label - Make your classroom print-rich by labeling every area and as many objects as possible. This will be beneficial not only to ELLs but also to students who have limited recognition of sound and symbol. The more exposed students are to print, the more opportunities they get to store it in their long-term memory.
2. Pictures cues - Use pictures with your vocabulary lists and spelling lists. Add color pictures to your word walls and leave them openly exposed in the classroom. Do not put them down. Once again, the exposure to the visuals will allow for more opportunities to store the image in memory.
3. Graphic organizers - Start each unit with a graphic organizer showing the main points of the lesson prior to enter it in full. Show a Frayer model, a Hierarchy chart, a Venn diagram, or a cause and effect chart that clearly points to the keywords that are most likely to be repeated throughout the unit. Add pictures to your graphic organizers and keep them posted around the room.
4. Differentiation - ELLs are not to be separated, isolated, or treated differently than other students. Therefore, differentiate instruction by grouping students by interest levels helping them share avidly while giving each other great opportunities for language learning. Provide step-by-step activities with written directions that they can read to each other. Always offer checklists so that they can connect what they are doing to the vocabulary that they are also learning.
5. Icebreakers - Start each new lesson with an activity that prompts students to mingle. Online sites such as ABCYA.com let you make your own vocabulary review games, which you can project into the SMARTboard and make into an interactive experience. Other icebreakers can include vocabulary bingo, the hangman game, card games, or "Guess What it Is" games where you provide a definition and the students have to use deductive thinking to infer the correct word.
6. Opportunities for rewards -When students are prompted to engage in healthy competition they become completely committed to the activity. This competition is not against one another. Each student has an individual academic goal to accomplish, either in language, math or other area. Therefore, as the students accomplish their set goals, they can also earn rewards for their hard work. Every student is different and each student has an independent goal. These rewards are another way to prompt communication in the classroom and let students mingle with one another.
7. Do not find it complicated - ELL learners are no different than any other student. All students are in school to learn, whether it is a target language, science, math or even basic socialization. Do not fear a student that does not speak English. You are not supposed to speak the student's native language, so the more English you expose the student to the better it is for him or her.
Use non-verbal communication, emphasize your gestures, and just be as natural as you can. Do not over-enunciate, as that may confuse the student. Second languages are learned incidentally at best. Allow your students to be themselves and communicate without formalities or fear of misunderstanding. The brain will take care of filling any gaps as they go.