Teachers' Corner

3 Classroom Practices that Accelerate Language Acquisition for EL Students

Eugenia Krimmel, readinghorizons.com

Meaningful, Relevant Visual Supports

  • Pictures

  • Icons

  • Skits

  • Realia

    • Small scale objects, real pictures, or the object itself used for teaching

Graphic Organizers

  • Venn diagrams

  • T-Charts

  • Character maps, timelines, and story sequencing

Linguistic Supports

  • Bilingual dictionaries

  • Word banks and word walls

  • Small group and pair work

Quick Ideas to Modify or Accommodate for EL Students in Classrooms

To modify homework and tests:

  1. Reduce the amount of questions on homework assignments (ex. 50 questions > 25 questions)

  2. Re-write tests to reduce linguistic load and parallels reduced homework assignments

  3. Allow oral presentation/poster presentation of learned content to measure learning

Top 5 EL accommodations:

  1. Extended time (on tests, time 1/2)

  2. Alternate setting

  3. Oral presentation/Teacher-Read directions

  4. Reduced distractors on multiple choice tests

  5. Read-aloud to self

Studies indicate that, in most classrooms, teachers dominate the linguistic aspect of the lesson, leaving students severely limited in terms of opportunity to use language in a variety of ways.

Now what??

The best way to ensure the ELs and ALL students are able to read and write with the greatest comprehension and expression is to increase ORAL language!

  • Get them listening and speaking to each other before and provide thorough instruction to ensure the content is more meaningful and that it "sticks"!

  • Design learning activities that are authentic, meaningful and relevant.

  • Seek student feedback - for example: show of fingers to indicate which of the following ratings fit:

    • 1 finger - I understand this concept

    • 2 fingers - It looks familiar, or I have studied something like this before

    • 3 fingers - I don't know this

...or at the end of the lesson to how well the lesson objective was met:

  • 1 finger - I can teach this concept to someone else

  • 2 fingers - I understand most but not everything

  • 3 fingers - I don't understand completely; I need more time/practice/examples

Brick Vocabulary

"Bricks" are the vocabulary specific to the content and the concepts being taught. They include such words as: government, mitosis, metaphor, revolt, arid, revolution and habitat.

Mortar Vocabulary

"Mortar" words and phrases are required for constructing sentences. They are words that hold our language together and are essential to comprehension. This vocabulary is best taught explicitly in the context of language use, as these words do not generally stand alone, but within the context of a sentence or phrase. Examples include: because, then, sometimes, on, under, behind, live, eat, use, she, their, it, themselves, notice, think and analyze.