Teaching English language learners comes with its own set of challenges and problems. It’s important for teachers to learn these differences in order to effectively teach ELLs. The National Center of Education and Statistics has concluded that the number of ELLs is rising, so it is paramount that teachers know how to help them.
Understanding the current proficiency level of your English Language Learners
There are many effective strategies for teaching ELLs, but that doesn’t mean they work in any situation. Many of them get results only when students already have a basic understanding of the English language.
Applying it sooner may not only yield meager results, but it could also discourage English-language learners if they don’t get the results you are hoping for.
It may take some time, but it’s important to know the level of proficiency your students currently have in order to choose the right strategies to use in the classroom. By assessing their knowledge, you will better understand what needs improvement.
Do not use teaching strategies without first considering your students’ current grasp of the English language. It’s imperative to ensure the learning exercises you plan to use will actually be helping your students.
Using authentic materials in class
A great way to help your students use what you teach them in the real world is to work with authentic visuals and texts. For example, if you help your class understand a standard bus schedule, they are not only learning English, but also understanding how bus schedules generally work.
This idea can prove very helpful. However, it’s important you don’t overdo it.
Do not center your lessons around such materials because it might not provide the students with all the information they may need in the future.
Organizing group activities
Some students know more English than others. Through group activities, you encourage them to learn from each other. Group activities can range from debates to jigsaw puzzles with pieces of a text.
The way you create the teams is extremely important. The goal should be to group students with different proficiency levels.
This way, many English-language learners will understand new things with the help of their more knowledgeable peers.
Do not create groups of students who are all at the same level. They will not learn as much this way, and it will also create tensions between students because of the gap in knowledge.
When trying to better communicate with ELLs, you should not use slang or cultural references because they might have trouble understanding them. You have to consider the vocabulary you use in order to make sure your students are able to learn.
Encourage students to ask questions whenever they don’t understand something. By using visuals and other materials, it’ll be easier to get points across and help English-language learners understand new words or concepts at a faster rate.
If your students are having a hard time with a certain exercise, try to find exactly what’s causing the problem. Don’t just treat them as if they were learning their first language. Not only is this inefficient, but it will surely negatively impact their self-esteem and discourage them from learning.
Your attitude towards their native language
The way ELLs learn English has a lot to do with their native language. In some cases, this might be helpful. In others, it might prove to be an extra hurdle. It can influence their pronunciation, the order in which they use words, and several other aspects as well.
It’s important to know a few things about their native language in order to help them avoid certain errors that would otherwise be fine in their language.
By explaining the differences between languages, your students will understand the lessons faster thanks to their existing knowledge.
Use their native language as a launchpad for your lessons, but don’t treat it as something completely unrelated that should be forgotten.
Keep these tips in mind and you will see a significant improvement when it comes to the rate at which your students learn. English-language learners deserve more help, and now, you will be better prepared to offer assistance.
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