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Academic Language: Everyone’s “Second” Language

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.

Accessing Students' Background Knowledge in the ELL Classroom

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.

Building Trust with Schools and Diverse Families

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.

Creating a College-Going Culture for English Language Learners

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.

Creating a Welcoming Classroom Environment

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.

Extra Support for Adolescent ELLs

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).

Getting Ready for College: What ELL Students Need to Know

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.

Hooking Reluctant ELL Readers

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.