Thank You Technology!
My class consists of 19 students, of which only 1 speaks English only in his household, and even he began his life in a bilingual environment. The other 18 speak at least one, if not two other languages in their homes. Most of my students speak Arabic, but many also speak French. I have 3 who speak French and not Arabic, 1 who speaks Spanish, and 1 who speaks a Philippine dialect. All of my students speak SOME English, but to varying degrees. My job is to teach them English, while also teaching them everything we normally teach in school (reading, writing, math, science, social studies etc.) Fortunately, I am certified to teach ESL and have some experience with English Language Learners. Due to my unique teaching position, I have had some readers ask for tips on teaching English Language Learners. So, from now on, I will now be doing a Teaching Tip Tuesday geared especially towards teaching English Language Learners. Here’s this week’s Tuesday TESOL Teaching Tip:
ELL Teaching Tip #15: Utilize Technology
Technology can be a friend or foe in any classroom – depending on the day. However, I have found technology to be a life saver when working with English Language Learners. Last week, in TESOL Teaching Tip #14, I stressed using Google Translate when working with the parents of ELLs. I also use Google Translate with my higher students who can read and write in their home language. If there is a word they want to include in their writing and they can’t get me to understand what that word is, we put it into Google Translate and find the correct English word to substitute. With my lower students, I use a Google Image Search or an AskKids Image Search (if I’m concerned with the pictures that might show up) to give them a picture of something that I am explaining and they just aren’t understanding. The other day, try as I might, I couldn’t seem to explain peacock accurately enough. I went to the computer, did an image search for peacock, and Voila, my student knew exactly what I was talking about.
In addition to these simple tools, there are some great websites that you can use with your English Language Learners, in a center, whole group, or as homework to help them work on vocabulary and grammar. Here are a few that I really like:
Pronunciator – This website works on 60 different languages. I actually use it to help myself learn Arabic and French, but it’s also fabulous for English Language Learners. Students can put in their first language and the second language they want to learn (English). Then the website will take them through graphic based learning activities for all 4 domains: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. For some activities, you do need a microphone, as it has a pronunciation tool. The vocabulary is grouped into categories, so it’s a great way to work on things like food, animals, clothes, verbs, etc.
Free Rice – There are many subjects covered on Free Rice, but English Vocabulary has a big sections. It is a reading and writing game only, but it has a good selection of easy and hard vocabulary. Additionally, if you get a question wrong, it will give you the correct answer, and then ask you that question again in 4 or 5 turns, giving you a chance to reuse the knowledge they are giving you.
Starfall – The best primary reading website out there, Starfall is especially good for English Language Learners because it reads books to students or allows them to read them on their own, as well as teaching all those letter sounds that are so needed (and can be different from language to language). Check out the I’m Reading and It’s Fun to Read sections for challenging, vocabulary building stories for higher level students.
Do you enjoy the weekly TESOL Teaching Tips? Do you want to know more about teaching English Language Learners? I will be speaking on this topic on March 22nd at the Everything’s Intermediate Expo, and I’d love to have you “join” us. It is a virtual expo, which will help us connect no matter where we are! Click HERE for more information.
Find more TESOL Teaching Tips here, and come back every Tuesday for a new tip!