With more challenging curriculum to address in classes, teachers will need to have access to some easy to implement instructional techniques which will make demanding content less frustrating for ELLs. After all, they are still learning English while trying to learn content in English. Knowing this, teachers will need to be both language and content teachers.
Sounds a bit overwhelming? Relax. It is easy to carry out with planning. In fact, what supports ELLs here will also aid native speakers who struggle with similar issues. This article from the Alliance for Excellent Education lays out 6 key areas where language development must be addressed and offers ideas to implement them.
6 KEY STRATEGIES:
1. vocabulary and language development--tie vocabulary to the content. Vocabulary taught in isolation is highly ineffective. That type of activity does not lead to schema building.
2. guided interaction--scaffolding challenging reading materials/assignments is done here. All 4 language skills should be used to enable ELLs (and others) to process the language demands of the lesson--both those of academic English and lesson content. Teachers need to skillfully incorporate a variety of lesson driven activities to set students up to eventually do the final assessment activity before given independent practice (homework). To further help ELLs master the content, bring in activities tied to the different learning styles.
3. metacognition and authentic assessment--teachers must explicitly model thinking strategies. Think-alouds on the teacher's part are highly effective here. The teacher goes through the learning activity allowing students to "see" how one should process new information. Ex. teacher says, "Hmm. I wonder building a moon base should be a world effort. Well, I see from the article that the expense would be overwhelming for the US. This might justify securing the support of the world community to make this happen. I wonder how this could be arranged on the world stage. Maybe the US could..."
4. explicit instruction--teachers must use direct instruction to show students how to navigate course materials. For example, teachers would teach how to use context to gather meanings of unfamiliar words.
5. meaning-based context and universal themes--here teachers activate prior knowledge. If students can build connections between their own lives and the content, they will do well in the lesson. If the background knowledge is not there, teachers need to fill in the gaps.
6. modeling, graphic organizers, and visuals--pull out the teacher toolkit. Posters, visuals, videos, graphic organizers, mind maps, modeling, skits, diagrams, charts, graphs, videos, learning logs, reflection journals, etc.
Pages 4 and 5 provide excellent charts to guide teachers in implementing each of the 6 strategies. LAMINATE them and keep them in an easily accessible place.
Great support for common core standards:)
6 PROVEN TEACHING STRATEGIES TO ACCELERATE ACADEMIC LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
ELL TEACHER PROS