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Kindergarten Teacher

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I teach all-day kindergarten in an urban district. Every year I have about 3-5 ELL students in my class. A "do" that works for me is using picture clues whenever possible. We do a lot of vocabulary development and I try to always have a picture for them to associate it with. It is also very important to have picture clues when giving directions. I use pictures for scissors, crayons, glue, work with a partner, etc. This helps all of my students, not just the ELL students.
Learning a new language at a young age is easier than later in life. It also helps that in kindergarten we spend a lot of time teaching phonics, phonological awareness, and sight words. The ELL students are given a lot of exposure and practice in the classroom and with an ELL teacher.
I think another "do" would be to stay consistent with how you word directions, etc. They will know what to expect and it will become familiar to them. This also helps build their confidence.
I completely agree with allowing students to use their home language in the classroom. Many of my students speak Spanish and I know a little bit myself. I like to occasionally try to communicate with them in Spanish because it they love it. I enjoy when they teach me new words and it helps me build a relationship with them.
I also agree with the part about checking for understanding and how important it is. I use the thumbs up or thumbs sideways approach and the students feel more comfortable being honest when they don't understand something. I like the sticky note idea but my students might be too young for it.

9th grade English, South East Idaho

What advice can you give me

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What advice can you give me about reaching my ELL students when I check for understanding? Often times I feel that they tell me they understand because they don't know how to frame their question in English, or they don't believe I can answer their question with the language barriers.

ESL teacher and Grad student

A Keeper!

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I just found your post from a year ago! Glad I did!

Thank you for consolidating these excellent points! The interesting thing about your post is its application to every age and level of ELLs,, and honestly, any subject. Presently, I'm focused on adult ELL education, but in the past I taught leadership and management in the Navy. Without being as succinct as you, we incorporated most of these in our curriculum and lessons.

But the question about how to "check for understanding" in my new field of TESOL has been challenging for me. Too often, teachers, facilitators or guest speakers use the “are there any more questions” approach to simply wrap up a lesson and end it there. But you have provided some really helpful ideas and hints to ensure I genuinely draw out questions or concerns from my students.

I'm going to print and display this somewhere prominently as I approach my Ottawa literacy classroom filled with multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-age learners. Your points ensure respect for every learner's abilities and their native language!
Brilliant! And thank you!

Kudos to the engaging and helpful commenters too!

Wowzers offers online Game-based Math curriculum for Grades 3-8

Do: utilize digital resources

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Do: utilize digital resources to allow ELL/ESL students to self-drive their basic learnings while also strengthening their lexicon understanding.

Don't: solely utilize digital resources as the only means to interact with ELL/ESL students.

To learn more about using digital resources to enhance ELL/ESL progress, check out http://blog.wowzers.com/bid/275662/Blended-Learning-Environments-Enhance...

Kindergarten Teacher from Otsego, Minnesota

Thanks!

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Thank you for your list of dos and don'ts. I have two separate kindergarten classes this year and one group is almost 1/2 ELL students. Sometimes I get frustrated when I am by myself all day with 5 year olds who are not understanding. This list helps me remember to take a deep breath and that if we need to go at a 'slower' pace, that's acceptable. I typically do "thumbs up or thumbs down" type of things in my room but I love your added: "and it's perfectly fine if you don't understand or are unsure -- I just need to know."" I sometimes forget to say something like that to my students, yet it is so important!

I loved your article. One

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I loved your article. One thing that I use in my room with my ELL students is picture directions. I have pictures that show cutting, pasting, coloring, and so on so that in addition to hearing me and watching me model the directions they also have the visual reminder as well.

Kindergarten Teacher from Cincinnati , Ohio

Early Childhood , Library Teacher

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My experience in the Kindergarten Class is that I had three little Chinese girls in one school year arrive at different times in the school year and it was a delightful experience. The students learned through immersion into the classroom environment with hands-on tasks, interaction with peers and focused one on one language experience on Starfall website, listening to stories & working with letters. It was great to be able to celebrate Chinese New Year with them because it affirmed thier importance in the clssroom and world.

Basic Skills adult educator from Charlotte, NC

Language police

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I don't completely agree with the suggestion of 'Don't "ban" students from using their native language in the classroom'. I think it depends on how you do it (as with many things). I have done that in my ESL classes, and I have gotten positive results almost all the time. I turn that into a sort of game or competition, not being a "language police".

Educational Consultant/Author, Southern California

Appreciate Your Clarity

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Thank you so much for the clarity of this article. I've been teaching in SoCal with English Language Learners for several years, and you are spot on. The kids need every mode possible; they are so bright they just soak up the language.

Seventh-- ninth grade English teacher from Beijing, P.R.C.

Yes, you are correct,

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Yes, you are correct, sometimes when I teach my students,I also like to ask them if they have any questions, they (I guess they are just to be polite to nod their heads,)but they don't know. :P

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