Putting Theory into Practice: Implementing Effective Strategies for English Language Learners
A few months ago, I began a series, Putting Theory into Practice: Implementing Effective Strategies for English Language Learners.
In Part I, we met Mr. Boyd, an 8th grade science teacher, and learned how he focused on vocabulary strategies to ensure his English Language Learners (ELLS) were able to access the academic vocabulary in this class.
In Part II, we met Ms. Finch, a 7th grade Texas history teacher. By providing background information prior to introducing a new topic, Ms. Finch set up her ELL students for academic success. She found additional resources to support the information being taught in order to let students experience the material in various contexts.
In Part III, we met Mr. Greer, an ESL teacher who works closely with his colleagues to provide strategies to help ELL students. He helped his colleagues implement the use of audio and visual support and utilized the effectiveness of chunking material to make it more accessible.
Part IV, we provided some ideas to implement multiple learning opportunities to reinforce key concepts and vocabulary and provided cross-content application to help tie learning together, making it more comprehensible.
For the final offering in this series, we will delve into utilizing effective online programs to further language acquisition.
In this information age, we want to incorporate technology in the classroom. Consequently, if we don’t incorporate technology, we are doing a disservice to our students. For ELLs, this isn’t always so easy.
When I speak to ESL professionals across the country, I always ask what online programs they use in the classroom with their students. The answer is consistent: multiple programs are used to try to piece together something that works with students to build their language skills.
I myself faced this same situation, and at times, it was very frustrating and confusing for my students. Having a program that supports best practices and allows students to work independently was something I longed for in my classroom.
When incorporating technology, we need to ensure that the programs we use support instructional practices that will provide learning opportunities to further the academic success of our students.
When evaluating online programs for ELLs, ask the following questions:
- Does this program provide data that I can access to help guide my students?
- Does this program provide a placement test to assess where students are and then place them at a level appropriate for their language proficiency?
- Does this program offer activities to support the four language processes: listening, speaking, reading, and writing?
- Does this program offer activities to reinforce concepts in various contexts?
- Does this program engage students?
- Does this program provide visual and audio support?
- Does this program align to standards?
- Does this program have rigor and accessibility for my students?
- Does this program offer material that is age appropriate for my ELL students, regardless of their proficiency level?
- Does this program offer support for teachers to extend lessons and offer additional support for struggling students?
- Is this program web-based, allowing 24/7 access for students?
Asking these questions will help you in your search for an effective online program. With so many options out there, having some questions to guide our evaluations will help us focus in on the “nuts and bolts” and will ensure the programs we put in front of our students are academically sound.
It is my sincere hope that this series has been useful to you and that you have found some new strategies or ideas to implement in your classroom.
Working to ensure that our ELLs have the appropriate support they need to access the academic material, while also supporting their language-acquisition needs, is essential to ensuring they have the tools to achieve success.
Make sure to check out the blog next month for additional tips!