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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

All Teachers Must Be Savvy in English Language Development

For many teachers, teaching non-native speakers of English is somewhat new.  Though many states have growing numbers of ELLs in their schools, not many have offered specific training to content teachers on how to best deliver content and language development to them.  Since all teachers want their students to succeed in class, they are under self-imposed pressure to find effective teaching strategies to reach these students while simultaneously addressing the academic needs on their English speakers.  Though this may seem overwhelming on the surface, it can be done.

Dr. Jim Cummins offers some key insights into what teachers must do to be sure that ELLs can academically not just survive but also do well in social studies classes (his advice here would also work in other disciplines).  

First and foremost, teachers must be able to identify the different levels of English language proficiency among their ELLs.  State departments of education provide them as well as individual school districts.  If this approach does not yield results, teachers need to see their ELD/ESL coordinator.  S/he would be able to fill in the missing pieces as to what each language level is able to do in the areas of listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  This knowledge assists a teacher in tweaking lesson delivery to make it more accessible.

Second, activating prior knowledge is a must (see earlier posts on this through SEARCH THIS BLOG link).  Once a teacher has helped students make connections between past experiences and upcoming lesson, the student is ready to handle any new material with confidence.  He relates it to past experience from school or from life.

Third, never miss an opportunity to build on and extend language.  There are many ways to do this:  visuals, skits, video clips, etc.  Add to this word parts, concept maps, frayer models, mind maps (posted on a year ago and in top 10 blogposts on home page).

3 PILLARS OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNING

Denise

ELL TEACHER PROS

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