Tuesday, July 24, 2012


How do you actively engage the typical ELL in a mainstream social studies class?  What tools does the teacher need to scaffold or support the ELL in a world history class or U.S. history one?  How does a teacher bring the ELL into class discussions in ways where the ELL won't feel uncomfortable or ill at ease.  After all, her/his English language proficiency will be below that of the native speaker of English so the fear that s/he might not be able to articulately share her/his opinion can be a bit intimidating. 

In this site (NYU School of Education), stumbling blocks to comprehension for the ELL will be addressed and successful approaches to dealing with them.  MAKING SOCIAL STUDIES/HISTORY ACCESSIBLE TO ELLS  Vocabulary will once again be an issue.  How will you determine what IS important and therefore must be taught as opposed to what can just be talked through in the lesson and not mentioned again.  Once that decision is made by the teacher, s/he must then decide what vocabulary words the ELL needs to know and why.  This is an important decision since the ELLs are also still working with a new language.  Processing content in a language that a student doesn't yet fully comprehend can be overwhelming to say the least.  So a teacher has to target those key crucial words and use them in context, reading, writing, speaking, speaking regularly so that ELLs will eventually incorporate them in their vocabulary base.  A teacher should build in the class a variety of activities and scaffolding devices that students could use to internalize the words.  Though the site will have some proven strategies, here are few more not mentioned: word walls (use chart paper and when the word walls are done, post them throughout the classroom), concept maps (all students enjoy this tool--the visuals help everyone remember the key information), mind maps (blogged on in the past in this site), sentence frames (geared to high beginners, intermediates, and advanced ELLs),  FRAYER MODEL, etc. 



It is also necessary that the teacher set up speaking supports for ELLs.  They must know how to present their opinions in ways that are accepted as non-confrontational.  This is accomplished through lots of practice.  Ex.  "Though I respect your opinion, I have a different one.  I believe that....."  Think-pair-share, elbow partners, cooperative learning, etc. are just some of the grouping strategies which can be used to provide the ELL with speaking and listening practice using academic language and sentence frames.  Time must be allocated for intensive listening and speaking time for the ELLs so that they will start to build a based of academic words and sentences that they will eventually use in their writing as well as recognize when they read.  With listening, speaking, reading, and writing going on regularly in class, the ELL's English skills will improve as well as her/his grasp of content.

Last, but not least, a teacher should have lots of visuals, timelines, concept maps, key vocabulary (frayer model layout), etc. all around the room so that the ELL has all the support necessary to get the content and grow in English language skills:)



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