For many teachers, teaching and engaging English language learners (ELLs) means facing new challenges. Many educators are simply un- or under-prepared to cater to the needs of today’s diverse classrooms, even after rigorous teacher preparation.

Engaging English language learners while maintaining classroom management may seem like an impossible task, but it’s really not. It’s just a matter of gaining the right knowledge and using it to adjust your teaching methods so that you reach all the students in your class.

That being said, here are 4 effective tips that will help you engage ELLs in a fun way and without creating total chaos:

1. Create a Welcoming ELL Classroom Environment

All students need to feel comfortable in the classroom, but when it comes to ELLs, this is particularly important. Remember that for them, speaking in class feels even more intimidating, and they might also be embarrassed because of their inability to speak English as well as some of their peers.

This is why a supportive and understanding teacher is so important.

Simple things like making an effort to pronounce students’ names correctly, asking them to share things about their culture and smiling during interactions can make ELLs feel welcomed and more willing to raise their hands in class.

2. Adjust Your Rhythm of Speech

More often than not, ELLs are struggling to understand the information provided in class because their teachers speak too fast. As a result, they are also less likely to ask or answer questions and engage during class.

Speak slowly and clearly, and use words that are easy to grasp so that everybody in class can understand what you’re saying.

Also, make sure you practice wait time after asking a question. Don’t rush ELLs to give you an answer or end the phrase for them. It’s best to give them enough time to process the question and think of an answer before you actually call on someone to respond.

Remember that unless they are English proficient, they are hearing the question in English, translating it into their language, coming up with the answer in their language, and translating it into English to provide an answer. Language learning takes much more brain power than engaging with native English speakers! 

3. Create a Routine

Routines are good because they offer structure and give students a sense of security. By establishing certain class-procedures, your students know what to expect and they will feel less anxious.

Make sure your students know what their tasks are in advance, and that they have clear expectations about what will happen during class.

This way, they will focus more on learning English, which means they will also become more active in class.

Remember, the brain can only attend to one thing at a time. If your classroom schedule is not set, English Learners will struggle to understand the direction you are taking and won’t be able to concentrate on your lesson.

4. Help English Language Learners Build Confidence by Providing a Safe Environment

You can inspire English language learners to become more confident in their own learning abilities by constantly reminding them that it’s okay to make mistakes, as long as they learn from them. It’s also a good idea to recognize and display their work, so that they feel valued. This, of course, is with their permission. To avoid embarrassment, make sure the work is their final, error-free copy.

The more confident and safe your students will feel, the more they will be willing to ask questions and contribute with ideas.

Want to learn more about how you can help your ELL students succeed?

ELLs have different needs, and teachers must know how to respond to those needs so that they can help students from different backgrounds get the quality education they deserve.

We can provide you with the information you require to become a better teacher, increase student engagement and get them on the path to academic success.

We offer research-based training for teachers of English language learners that will help you provide a better learning experience for the students in your classroom.

Contact us today at 1-800-279-7135 or 480-502-8250. Tell us more about your goals for your English learners and we’ll show you how you can achieve them!