Posted on 12/22/2015 at 02:44 PM by Liz Determan
Since I am by profession an early childhood speech/language pathologist with a second love of English Language Learning, I am going to write about strategies we use in speech therapy for development of language. Even though it is a development of a second language, we all know it follows the same path as developing the first language. So the same strategies should work for both speech therapy caseloads and ELL students with a little leaning towards vocabulary development and understanding of culture added to the mix.
To use other means of teaching beyond oral and print often involve a big emphasis on visual techniques to help with class objectives. These can include ideas such as using photographing and other visual aids to spark interest and develop meaningful vocabulary. Most like to talk about family or special events as shown through pictures. If none are available one can use their phone or the school’s iPad to take pictures. This may also offer those of us who are First Language people a glimpse into our student’s lives and important celebrations. As the student presents the picture they will be encouraged to tell about the people in the picture, what the event was, time of year, etc. A variety of language concepts can be taught thru the use of one meaningful picture. This lesson can easily be expanded to include other individual photos. In speech therapy we often put together a “Me Book” or other appropriate name, which includes all the pictures and vocabulary needed to discuss the pictures.
Another technique we use may be a visual schedule of their day. When a student first arrives at a new school, it may be helpful for them to have a visual schedule of what their day looks like. Starting with arriving at the front door of their school and ending with their exit. This can be very helpful for the young student or the young ones who have not had prior school experiences.
Some students, depending on their proficiency may be able to use print while others may need an object representing that activity, such as a small ball to signify “Recess”. Others can understand the flow of their day using line drawings. These are set up in a linear fashion often accompanied by a check off space next to it to let the student know when that activity is completed and time to transition to the next part of their day. Usually the schedule consists of laminated paper cut into 2 x 4 inch sizes with the representable object velcroed to the paper. The check mark next to it represented by a square where the checkmark is placed via Velcro next to it. There are many Visual Schedule ideas available on the Internet so you can use the one most appropriate for your student.
I hope these are helpful in your challenge of teaching English Language Learners.