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[Teacher Tips] 8 Ways to Support ELL Students Virtually

[Teacher Tips] 8 Ways to Support ELL Students Virtually

When remote learning became a necessity this spring, the new virtual aspect of education made it challenging for some districts and educators to provide the same level of supports they were used to providing to their English language learners (ELLs) in person. Now that learning is regularly taking place outside of the brick-and-mortar classroom this school year, it’s important to consider ways educators can support ELLs in virtual learning environments. We previously shared strategies on how to support ELLs in the elementary and secondary classrooms. In this blog, we’ll focus on eight e-learning tips to support your ELLs in your virtual classroom.

  1. Create a learning schedule

Create a learning schedule document where you can update upcoming assignments, instructions in English and other languages, deadlines, and associated resources such as websites, documents, and videos. This will help keep students accountable for upcoming assignments and give parents visibility into what their students are working on. Take a look at this helpful week-at-a-glance document template for ideas.

  1. Host Virtual Office Hours

Host virtual office hours so your ELL students and their families can join and ask questions on lessons and assignments. This will give you an opportunity to clarify any instructions or expectations that were misunderstood by students or families due to language barriers. By scheduling your virtual office hours according to your schedule, you are making yourself available to help your students while still creating a boundary between school time and your personal time.

Having difficulty getting students or families to regularly attend virtual office hours? Read more about the challenges of virtual office hours and some suggested solutions.

  1. Schedule Virtual One-on-Ones

Check in with each student periodically to provide individual feedback, reinforce expectations, explain instruction in detail in their native language, and offer reviews and remediation as needed. Take this one-on-one time to point out to your students the progress that you have witnessed in their work and point out areas in which you think they are ready for new challenges.

  1. Record Live Lessons

For ELL students, the traditional pace of instruction may be too quick for them to be able to make sense of every word. Consider recording your live lessons and making the recordings available to students so they can re-watch them as often as they need to.

  1. Prerecord Instructional Media & Include Transcripts

If you will be using prerecorded instructional videos or audio during class, consider recording in short snippets (3 to 5 minutes in length). Just like with recorded live lessons, ELL students will be able to review these short, pre-recorded media snippets at their convenience.

If you create transcripts ahead of time for your audio and video recordings, make sure to provide those to your ELL students as well. With transcripts, they’ll be able to match the written language to the spoken language. If they need native language support while reviewing the transcripts, encourage them to take the transcripts and translate them to their native language by running them through an online translator, like Google Translate, Microsoft Word Translator, or Translate.com. Give students the opportunity to practice being resourceful online so they can carry those traits into future academic environments.

  1. Collaborate with Colleagues from Different Disciplines

Collaborate with colleagues with different subject matter expertise from your own and find ways to incorporate other disciplines into your own virtual lessons. This can help your ELL students with language integration in all content areas and further academic language development.

  1. Create Virtual Groups

Encourage breaking the class into small groups so ELL students can engage in speaking and listening activities for English language acquisition practice. Oftentimes, speaking in small groups feels more comfortable than speaking in front of the entire class. Having students receive peer feedback is also helpful in developing oral English proficiency, which is more conversational than academic English proficiency, but equally useful.

  1. Ask for Student Feedback

At the end of each class, ask students what they liked from the lesson they just learned, what concepts weren’t very clear to them, and what they wish they could see more of in future lessons. Ask students what you can do to make their learning easier. If students can’t think of any feedback on the spot, encourage them to email you with suggestions once they have had more time to think. Just as it’s important to periodically evaluate the efficacy of ELL programs as a whole and consider opportunities for improvement, it’s also important to ask the students themselves what can better serve them in their English learning journey.

For more tips on supporting ELLs, read: Educators’ Guide to Supporting English Language Learners.

fabiola.garcia's picture

Fabiola Garcia happily joined the Edmentum family in the summer of 2014 and spent several years in the support and sales teams before serving as a Marketing Specialist. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and M.A. in Sociology with a Social Science Research Methods emphasis from Texas Woman's University. Fabiola is passionate about education and wishes to jumpstart educators and students on a path toward success by sharing resources and tools that will streamline their time spent inside and outside of the classroom.