4 the World blog

Empowering collaborative communities

English Language Learners

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Supporting English Language Learners in the classroom is important in all schools where the language of instruction is English, but students first language is a different language.  The Sheltered Instruction method provides common sense ways to scaffold instruction for ELLs.

  • Preteach to activate prior knowledge and provide adequate background knowledge that will be needed for the lesson. Connect to the students’ experiences.  Acknowledge the rich cultural knowledge each students brings to the class.
  • Cooperative groups allow students to practice speaking and listening, to use each person’s strength to help the group, and the social interaction is motivating.
  • Speaking slowly and clearly is important.  Before I traveled to Mexico I practiced saying, “No comprendí. Por favor, hablá más despacio.”  I knew that I would need native speakers to speak more slowly for me.
  • Avoiding idioms or figures of speech that don’t literally translate helps avoid confusion.  Common idioms are “give yourself a pat on the back,” “shoot for the stars,” and “all your ducks in a row.”
  • Use visuals like hand motions and pictures to support understanding.
  • Adapted texts can help also.  Instructors can cut and paste to make an abridged version or highlight what the ELLs should concentrate on comprehending.  Using multiple texts and considerate texts is advisable.

McLaughlin, M. (2010). Content area reading: Teaching and learning in an age of multiple literacies. Boston: Pearson.


Author: 4 the World

4 the World identifies and collaborates with communities across the globe to empower them to identify and solve the most pressing needs of their communities within the areas of health and education. By partnering with the communities in these areas, we provide critical support and capacity-building initiatives to ensure these communities are capable of continuing to grow and thrive in the future.

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