Posted on 01/15/2016 at 08:30 AM by Liz Determan

Some basic suggestions for working effectively with the limited English-proficient student:

1.- Be friendly and welcoming. It is not necessary to speak in a louder voice, just speak clearly and simply.

2.- Assign buddies or other classmates to help the ELL student. Students like to help each other. Helpmates should be assigned to make the newcomer feel more comfortable in the new environment. You can have a Desk Mate, a Playground mate, a Bus mate, or a Cafeteria mate to assist in any of the daily school activities.

3.-Use visual props, gestures, and facial expressions to communicate. Body language is very communicative. Use thematic lessons and small groups to connect learning and build concepts. Working together with other students on activity oriented, hands on projects gives the LEP student an important reason to use English to communicate with classmates.

4.-Include the ELL students in all class activities. He or she will follow the other students. Give the ELL student assignments and/or duties he/she can complete.

5.- Welcome the richness of cultural diversity. Encourage your ELL student to share his/her culture and language with you and the class.

6.- Focus attention on survival vocabulary and key words. Use pictures, charts, graphs and stories to teach vocabulary in context. Generate word lists from content areas and stories to be used as word banks for writing activities.

7.- Keep talking to your student. It is normal for him/her to experience a “silent period” which may last for days, weeks, or months. Do not force the student to speak if he/she is reluctant to speak in English.

8.- Arrange intensive help with English whenever possible. It is important to have understandable instruction. Many students will agree “yes” even if they don’t understand.

9.- Use a grading system which shows progress and does not unfairly compare ELL students to his/her English-only peer’s performance. Look at many areas when assessing learning such as class participation, art work, and social interaction. Keep anecdotal records of social and verbal interactions as well as writing samples.

10.- Many ELL students have either repeated a grade or placed in lower grades in the erroneous belief they will learn English faster. These students are best served by keeping them at grade level, modifying and adapting assignments, and offering additional help with English as frequently as possible.  

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