Tips for Teachers

Lesson Planning and Preparation
  • Set language objectives for content classes and provide feedback.
    • Academic language is the language of school.  ELLs need direct instruction in content area vocabulary, as well as other words in the English language.
      • Examples of function words: explain, identify, describe, cause, effect, compare, and contrast.
      • Examples of transition words: even though, although, and instead.
    • Provide positive feedback by modeling standard grammatical English.
    • Assess students to see if they have met both your content and language objectives.
Build Background Knowledge
  • Build on the background knowledge and experiences of the students.
    • Connect new material with prior learning across content areas.
    • Familiarize yourself with the language and culture of your students.
Increase Comprehension
  • Use speech that is suitable for ELLs' English language proficiency levels.
    • This may involve speaking more slowly, but in a natural way.
  • Teach in a multimodal manner.
    • Use visuals and oral and written language activities including: graphic organizers, pictures, mental images, kinesthetic activities, demonstrations, and realia.
    • Model learning activities and student expectations.
    • Give students multiple exposures to new vocabulary words through reading, writing and speaking.
Strategies for Teaching
  • Teach and model specific learning strategies.
    • Teach reading comprehension strategies, use graphic organizers, and model strategic thinking through the use of think-alouds.
  • Scaffold instruction when teaching a new concept.  Then, gradually release the amount of support as ELLs gain understanding through new opportunities to practice.

Interaction and Engagement
  • Students need to talk about what they are learning in order to acquire both language and content.
    • Incorporate opportunities for students to negotiate for meaning and practice academic language through formal cooperative learning.
Practice & Apply New Skills
  • Provide activities that integrate reading, writing, listening and speaking.
  • Homework and practice should be at an independent level.  New information needs to be taught and practiced in class.
    • Parent involvement in homework should be kept to a minimum.
    • Clearly post and discuss content and language objectives using student-friendly language.
Delivering the Lesson
  • Maintain rigor and set high expectations.
    • Simplify language, not content.
Review & Assess Key Concepts
  • Review key vocabulary and concepts regularly.
  • Provide feedback to ELLs on their language and assignments that clarifies misunderstandings.
    • Paraphrase what ELLs say to support their understanding and validate their answers.
If you'd like further explanation regarding these Tips for Teachers, your school's EL teacher would be happy to discuss them with you.


Best Practices in Teaching ELLs PowerPoint Presentation by Ann Mabbott

Classroom Instruction that Works with English Language Learners by J.D. Hill & K.M. Flynn

Making Content Comprehensible for English Language Learners: The SIOP Model by J. Echevarria, M. Vogy, & D. Short 
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