We rely heavily on visual prompts. We have a detailed illustrated schedule consisting of pictures posted on Velcro so they can easily be rearranged, and they're all taken of actual objects, people, or places in our building and labeled in English.
Training and curriculum specialist
Yokota Air Force Base Child Development Center
Yokota Air Force Base, Japan
I ask ELL students to share from their cultural heritage a writer, an idea, a historical event, or a reading related to the lesson being studied; activities include reading Pablo Neruda's love poems in Spanish, teaching haiku in Japanese characters, and demonstrating and explaining the meaning of a traditional Kurdish dance. The positive interaction with the class builds confidence, interest, and friendship.
Eastside High School
Taylors, South Carolina
I paired an ELL student in my class with a classmate who is well liked, and she helps him when he is unsure of what is going on or if we have done something too quickly.
Chicago Heights, Illinois
We see big changes in non-English speakers when they join their English-fluent classmates to dramatize things -- from acting out story excerpts to performing class plays. When ELL students become citizens of the class, they make friends, gain respect and understanding, and speak some English!
Professor of education
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Using free online translation services can be very helpful, especially when a translator or an additional service may not be immediately available. Attaching translated headings and/or directions to worksheets allows ELL students to follow along and feel as if they are part of the learning community.
Seventh-grade science teacher
Liberty Middle School
Many of our ELL students are shy, quiet students. We encourage them to become teachers in the classroom and give them the opportunity to teach the class words in their own language. We ask them to teach words for numbers and colors in their language. Children can also label objects in the room in various languages.
Kindergarten and art teacher
Russellville School District
I have had success by teaching ELL students how to create a Web site or a PowerPoint presentation to introduce their country and tell about themselves. They are allowed to use some of their native language; however, most choose to use English. They show a willingness to share what life is like in their country while learning important skills.
Stadley Rough Elementary School
Whenever possible, I seat an ELL student next to someone who can translate. We work in small groups, and the other students try to help the ELL students. This often works better than the teacher working one on one with a student. Also, I accept work from students in their native language so they'll feel productive.
special education teacher
Finley Junior High School
Chicago Ridge, Illinois
First, provide regular personal attention and check-ins. Second, do portfolios with all students: Document the most important student work throughout the year and file it in individual folders. Two or three times a year (usually before grades come out), ask students to review the contents of their portfolio and respond in writing to questions such as, "In what areas have I improved so far this year?" "In what areas do I need improvement?" "What is the most challenging aspect for me in this class?" "What is the least challenging?" Reviewing and responding to portfolio contents shows students struggling with English how they truly have progressed.
Managing editor, Big Ideas
I have used multilayered instruction, combined with peer tutoring and dual-language worksheets, handouts, and reading materials. This has proven to be extremely successful with fourth- and fifth-grade students. It is equally successful, although more difficult to implement, at the kindergarten and first-grade levels, due to the limitations of the peer tutors.
St. Johns Berchman's Catholic School
San Antonio, Texas
To accelerate language acquisition, students create minidocumentaries about some aspect of their native culture. Students write scripts that they read aloud and edit until they're perfect, import all these materials into iMovie, sync images with the words, add titles and credits, and provide their ethnic music. Finished products are shared with Global Studies classes and with the larger community via educational-access cable TV and the Web.
Teacher of English, ESL, and media production
Ithaca City School District
Ithaca, New York
The research says that the greatest help to ELL students is access to lots of interesting, comprehensible reading material that students are free to select on their own. When students become dedicated pleasure readers, dramatic (and effortless) improvements in reading ability, writing, vocabulary, and spelling results. Many ELL students have little access to books at home or in their communities. The obvious solution is improved school and classroom libraries.