English Language Learners
The population of English language learners (ELLs) in U.S. public schools is growing quickly. This section includes information on effective ways to teach ELL (also called ESL) students , methods for encouraging learning, and ways to promote family involvement. Please also visit our sister website Colorín Colorado, which focuses exclusively on ELLs.
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When working with struggling English language learners (ELLs), it's important to note that there are similarities among linguistic, cultural, and learning disability explanations for behaviors demonstrated by ELLs. This article can be used as a starting point for conversations regarding diverse learners who are struggling.
Before- and after-school programs can play an important role in ELLs' success by providing a place and time for homework, extra academic support, and enrichment activities. These programs are particularly helpful for older students who may not have access to academic resources or help at home, or those with responsibilities such as working or caring for younger siblings. Learn more about the elements of an effective before- and after-school program for ELLs from this excerpt of Teaching Adolescent English Language Learners: Essential Strategies for Middle and High School (Caslon Publishing, 2010).
In this excerpt from her essay "Literacy Development for Latino Students," published in The Best for Our Children: Critical Perspectives on Literacy for Latino Students, Teacher's College Press, the author describes the reading program she uses to take her reluctant readers from dreading the library to not wanting to put a book down.
While it may seem the most expedient solution, it is not appropriate to put an older ELL student in a lower grade to receive the appropriate reading instruction. Age-appropriate activities integrated with academic content give older students the opportunity to make progress as readers.
On a daily basis, ELLs are adjusting to new ways of saying and doing things. As their teacher, you are an important bridge to this unknown culture and school system. There are a number of things you can do to help make ELLs' transitions as smooth as possible.
Some English language learners may not know what to expect from the college application process. Others don't start thinking about college until their junior or senior year. One way to ensure that students are prepared to apply for college is to create a college-going culture in your school and across your district.
For ELLs, the challenges of going to college and finding the right opportunities can be overwhelming, but ELL teachers can play an important role helping students apply to college and preparing for the application process as well. This month's Bright Ideas article offers some great ideas for ways that you can support ELL students as they consider their future plans.
How can you hold an effective parent-teacher conference with the parents of English language learners if they can't communicate comfortably in English? This article provides a number of tips to help you bridge the language gap, take cultural expectations about education into account, and provide your students' parents with the information they need about their children's progress in school.
As you teach content areas to ELLs of diverse backgrounds, you may find that they struggle to grasp the content, and that they approach the content from very different perspectives. Drawing on your students' background knowledge and experiences can be an effective way to bridge those gaps and make content more accessible. This article offers a number of suggestions to classroom teachers as they find ways to tap into the background knowledge that students bring with them.
How do district and school partnerships with community-based organizations help schools better meet the needs of recent immigrant students? This article provides some examples of promising strategies in which community-based organizations and districts work together to address linguistic and cultural differences, help newcomers gain new language skills and catch up academically with their peers, and provide educational and social support to immigrant families.
Pre-reading activities can engage student interest, activate prior knowledge, or pre-teach potentially difficult concepts and vocabulary. They also offer a great opportunity to introduce comprehension components such as cause and effect, compare and contrast, personification, main idea, and sequencing.
In this article, a seasoned ELL teacher synthesizes her own classroom experience and the findings of the National Literacy Panel on Language-Minority Children and Youth to make recommendations for effective literacy instruction of ELL students.
Concrete suggestions for teachers who want to communicate well with all of their students, especially English language learners and students with learning disabilities.
Explicit teaching of reading comprehension skills will help English Language Learners apply these strategies to all subject matter.
English language learners (ELLs) represent more than 10% of the national pre-K through 12th grade enrollment, and more than 70% of these ELLs fail to develop strong literacy skills. To increase this group's educational, college, and job opportunities, policymakers must address the unique ELL literacy questions.
Given that teachers often have too much to teach and too little time, teacher Dana Dusbiber suggests an alternative approach to teaching literature for secondary ELLs: the introduction of more multicultural literature in the classroom.
Being able to speak English fluently does not guarantee that a student will be able to use language effectively in academic settings. Fluency must be combined with higher order thinking skills to create an "academic language," which allows students to effectively present their ideas in a way that others will take seriously. The author, an ELL teacher, describes her use of "protocols" (a cheat sheet of sentence starters) to build students' cognitive academic language proficiency.
What are the characteristics of middle schools in which Latino students from low-income families make substantial achievement gains?
While increased family involvement is linked to improved student performance, it is not always fully understood and examined within schools. Different types of involvement may include parenting, communicating with schools, volunteering at schools, supporting learning at home, participating in school governance and decision-making, and taking part in school-community collaborations. In order to encourage and foster this comprehensive involvement with all families, school administrators and teachers must develop mutual trust, consider the different cultural attitudes some families may have towards schooling, and be diligent in reaching out.