In my 3rd grade classroom, I use a variety of strategies to help English Learners learn English more quickly and retain new vocabulary. After learning French on my own time, I have discovered several strategies that have improved my French drastically.
1.) Using technology to enhance learning – Technology offers a different alternative to more traditional strategies such as direct instruction. When I learn French, I use apps such as Duolingo and Memrise to enhance my vocabulary. In the classroom, I give students the opportunity to use different apps to improve their language skills.
2.) Collaborate often with classmates in small groups. – By working in small groups, English Learners have the opportunity to improve their speaking skills because they have to work with their classmates to complete a specific task.
3.) Read books that are appropriate for their grade level. – When I study French, I read books and articles that reflect the level of my academic vocabulary. Similarly, when I have English Learners read books in English, I always make sure it is representative of their AR (Accelerated Reading) levels. If they read a book where the academic vocabulary is too advanced, then it discourages them from reading the book. Also, if the book is too easy, then they are not learning any new words.
4.) Always have visuals when teaching difficult concepts. – Whenever I am teaching a difficult math or reading concept, I have posters or pictures that represent the concept I am teaching. The posters allow students to make association between the words I am saying and the pictures I see. In case the vocabulary is too advanced, then the pictures act as a scaffold.
5.) Be respectful of the different cultures in the classroom. – Not all students learn in the same way whether or not they are ELLs. Students in general learn best through different teaching methodologies such as kinesthetic, visual, auditory, and tactile. I always ensure that my lessons incorporate at least two different learning styles so that students can learn in a way that is most effective for them.
Hope these strategies help your ELL students improve their English in the classroom! What strategies do you use when teaching ELL students?