English Language Learners

October 2016 Suggestions for ALL grade level Classrooms

Platteville School District

Currently the following languages are spoken by students and their families in our district.









As well as Indigenous Language dialects

Suggestions for working with ELs (English Learners)

1. Be friendly and welcoming. Don’t raise your voice – just because you speak louder does not mean they will understand you.

2. Assign buddies or other classmates to help the ELL student. Students like to help each other.

3. Use visual props, gestures, and facial expressions to communicate.

4. Body language helps in the process of communication.

5. Thematic lessons and small groups are also useful in connecting learning to lessons and building on concepts.

6. Cooperative work groups with hands-on projects helps all students learn and gives your EL a chance to use their English to communicate with others.

7. Include the student in class activities. Your EL with learn from and with other students.

8. Assign your EL student assignments that can be completed successfully.

9. Examine folklore from many cultures. Read different versions of the same story to learn to value similarities and differences among cultural groups. Read to your students frequently.

10. Read picture books. Magazine and newspaper articles with pictures, poems, and Weekly Reader’s articles. Have the EL students follow their copy as the story is read.

11. Welcome cultural diversity to your classroom. Give geography more meaning! Have class members use maps to show their families’ origins. Encourage your EL student to share their culture and language with their class. Make a picture dictionary with words in the student’s language and words in English.

12. Focus attention on survival vocabulary and key words.

13. Use pictures, charts, graphs, and stories to teach vocabulary in context. Make charts to help your students learn words. Poem charts, language experience story charts, and “maps” of stories are all helpful.

14. Generate word lists from content areas and stories to be used as word banks for writing activities.

15. Keep talking to your student. It is normal for ELs to have a “silent period” which may last for days, weeks, or months. Do not force the student to speak if they are not ready to speak.

16. It is important to have understandable instruction. Most EL students will say or nod their heads “yes” even if they don’t understand.

17. Use a grading system which shows progress, but does not unfairly compare the EL student to his/her English-only peer’s performance. Look at many areas when assessing learning.

18. Look at progress in their class participation, art work, and social interaction.

19. Continue to keep records on how the EL is progressing in reading, writing, listening and speaking skills in your individual classrooms.

20. Keep anecdotal records of social and verbal interactions as well as writing samples.

Valerie Shaw, ESL Teacher

This newsletter brought to you by your friendly district ESL teacher. Any questions, concerns or additional ideas - please email or call.