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April 27, 2018 Friday 02:47:17 PM IST

10 Tips for Teaching English-Language Learners

Teacher Insights

Teaching English to a non native of the language is not as easy as it sounds. There are several barriers that stand between the learner and the target. In order to overcome the barriers, certain basic characteristics are to be watched. Here is a helpful set of tips for teachers to teach English language learners.

1. Know your students:

Increase your understanding of who your students are, their backgrounds and educational experiences. Only then you can adopt the proper teaching strategy.

2.Be aware of their social and emotional needs:


Understanding more about the students' families and their needs is key. When they learners have siblings to care for afterschool, or they possibly live with extended family members or have jobs to help support their families, completing homework assignments will not take priority.

3.Increase your understanding of first and second language acquisition:

Although courses about second language acquisition are not required as part of teacher education programs, understanding the theories about language acquisition and the variables that contribute to language learning may help you reach your ELs more effectively.

4.Student need to SWRL every day in every class:


The domains of language acquisition, Speaking, Writing, Reading and Listening need to be equally exercised across content areas daily. Assuring that students are using all domains of language acquisition to support their English language development is essential.

5.Increase your understanding of English language proficiency:

Social English language proficiency and academic English language proficiency are very different. A student may be more proficient in one vs. the other. A student's level of academic English may be masked by a higher level of Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) compared to their Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP). For example, a student may be able to orally recall the main events from their favorite movie but struggle to recall the main events that led up to the Civil War.



6.Know the language of your content:

English has a number of polysemous words. Once a student learns and understands one meaning of a word, other meaning may not be apparent. Review the vocabulary of your content area often and check in with ELs to assure they know the words and possibly the multiple meanings associated with the words. For example, a "plot" of land in geography class versus the "plot" in a literature class. A "table" we sit at versus a multiplication "table."

7.Understand language assessments:

Find out when and how a student's English language proficiency is assessed and the results of those assessments. Using the results of formal and informal assessments can provide a wealth of information to aid in planning lessons that support language acquisition and content knowledge simultaneously.


8.Use authentic visuals and manipulatives:

These can be over- or under-utilized. Implement the use of authentic resources for example; menus, bus schedules, post-cards, photographs and video clips can enhance student comprehension of complex content concepts.

9.Strategies that match language proficiency:

Knowing the level of English language proficiency at which your students are functioning academically is vital in order to be able to scaffold appropriately. Not all strategies are appropriate for all levels of language learners. Knowing which scaffolds are most appropriate takes time but will support language learning more effectively.


10.Collaborate to celebrate:

Seek support from other teachers who may teach English language learners. Other educators, novice and veteran, may have suggestions and resources that support English language development and content concepts. Creating and sustaining professional learning communities that support the learners are vital for student success.


(Indebted to Various Sources)


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