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 #22: Don’t Forget Best Practices
A few years ago, I participated in SIOP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) training. SIOP is a model of teaching specifically designed to help English Language Learners gain more from content instruction in the general classroom. The training was wonderful and truly helped me with my English Language Learners, but the main focus of the training was simply utilizing “best practices”. We all know what best practices are – they are the tried and true strategies that give all students a chance to participate in learning in a hands-on manner that will increase understanding and improve the chances of comprehension and storage in long term memory.
So, the English Language Learner Teaching Tip of the Week is to remember to teach in the way you as a teacher know is best. English Language Learners may have some special needs, and need some special considerations – but in general they are just another student in your classroom who needs to learn. Strategies that help the rest of your students learn will help ELL’s learn too – especially if they are hands-on, collaborative, fully explained and modeled to students.
While we are all familiar with “best practices”, it is easy to get away from them in the reality of our classrooms. Here are a few reminders of some best practices that help our students – ELL or not:
1.) Model, model, model – rather than just talk about what students should do, model it! Show (don’t tell) students exactly where you want them to cut, how you want them to measure, how many counters you want them to use, which supplies you want them to use etc. For students who don’t have a lot of language, these visual models can greatly help them get the to understand the expectations.
2.) Think, pair, share – two heads are better than one. Give students a chance to share with each other and see if their thinking is on the right track. This strategy also give all students the opportunity to “share” to someone, thereby stopping the “But I NEVER get a chance to answer!”s.
3.) Use objectives – don’t assume students will know what you are teaching. Tell students what you are expecting them to learn, work on, and understand. By reviewing objectives with students, students have a clear idea of what thy need to do and a way to self-check and/or monitor themselves. Check objectives before AND after your lesson, so that students can monitor their learning.
Do you enjoy the weekly TESOL Teaching Tips? Do you want to know more about teaching English Language Learners? I presented on this topic at the Everything’s Intermediate Expo on April 21st. If you missed the Expo, it’s not too late to catch the presentation, click HERE to find out how to view the presentation.
Find more TESOL Teaching Tips here, and come back every Tuesday for a new tip!