10 Tips for Helping Your English Language Learners

These great tips were submitted to ESL Mania by an ESL teacher with 25 years of experience, both teaching adults and children.

1. Provide explicit vocabulary instruction for unfamiliar vocabulary prior to and during lesson. Use visuals where appropriate such as illustrations and graphic organizers. Many repetitions are needed for new words to be remembered.

2. Expect reading skills to come slowly. If the student has learned to read in his native language, this will probably help him to transfer reading skills to English. However, the student may be pronouncing words, but not really comprehending.

3. Modify activities according to the student’s English proficiency. If your student has been in this country for a year or two, differentiate a writing assignment by allowing your ELL student to write one paragraph. As the year progresses, your expectations may increase.

4. Speak directly to the student, emphasizing important nouns and verbs. Avoid slang and idiomatic expressions.

5. Consider using a slower rate of speech, enunciate clearly, use fewer difficult words and/or explain vocabulary that may make the content difficult to understand.

6. When reading a book to your class, consider reading at a slightly slower pace. Hold up the book so that students can clearly see the illustrations. Stop periodically to explain when you come to an expression that an ELL student would have difficulty understanding. For example, …”gonna.” Explain that this is not a real word.

7. Don’t give inflated grades.

8. Teach note-taking. For beginners, copying is fine.

9. Give longer wait time when asking questions.

10. When students speak incorrectly, repeat what they say correctly.

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