Often times, English language learners (ELLs) struggle with language intensive text. Feeling overwhelmed by the extensive vocabulary demands, they toil away with dictionaries or glossaries that offer even more confusion in trying to resolve the issue. Teachers do their best to help clarify, but many of the ELLs in their classrooms are long-term ELLs with a long history of limited academic success. These students have a limited knowledge of their home language beyond the basic conversation level. With such a limited background in their home language, English becomes more of a challenge since there is no basic language foundation to build upon. For such students to access academic language, teachers need to look to unconventional approaches. Below are two sites which do just that.
These sites offer a creative look at identifying key terms in an artistic layout. How does this turn to academic vocabulary access for these students? In reading a piece of literature, have students select a paragraph that speaks to them and then have each student paste it (a unique paragraph for each student) into the area for text. Once they click submit, the program highlights words in the order of importance. After students print out the finished work of art, their next job will be to select a given set of 5-8 words that carry the greatest importance in the text. Once those words are chosen, students would set out to see why those words (no more than 5-8) carry so much importance in the paragraph. Here is where students can dialogue with partners to compare notes and seek insight from fellow classmates as to what significance those words carry in the text. Once the meanings are deciphered, students write a paragraph sharing the insights gained on the use of those words in their paragraphs. The same technique would apply to any other content area as well. Consider this approach as a different way to address vocabulary development.
WORDLE Here is one site which does a great job in tapping student creativity. Though not a cure-all for every problem with teaching academic vocabulary, it is another tool at a teacher's disposal for taking the complex and making it comprehensible. The site is free. Please note that if you have a Mac, you will need a java plug-in.
WORDLE YOUTUBE TUTORIAL Youtube offers a video tutorial on how to use Wordle. It is easy to follow and only a couple of minutes in length.
TAGXEDO This is very similar to Wordle, but works without any problem on a Mac. Again, this is also a free site.
TAGXEDO YOU TUBE TUTORIAL Here is a tutorial on its use. Again, it is short, easy to follow, and free.
WORDLE WORKS WONDERS WITH VOCABULARY Here is a suggestion on how to use WORDLE, but it would work also with TAGXEDO.
ELL TEACHER PROS