English language learners are a very diverse group of students with varying backgrounds, language skills, and social-emotional needs. It can be very daunting for a general classroom teacher to know how to best support and teach such diverse learners. Here are some best practices for teaching ELL students in the general classroom.
- Know the students: It is vital to the ELL student’s success for the teacher to build a relationship and really know each student. Teachers should understand each student’s background, cultural, interests, strengths and needs, so the appropriate lessons and support can be provided for the student.
- Cooperative Learning: Working in small groups is highly beneficial to all students and especially ELL students. Students in a general classroom should sit in diverse groups to work on projects, discuss key concepts and provide positive support to each other. This provides ELL students with many opportunities for speaking and listening in a small group and safe setting.
- Visuals: Use drawings, photos, graphs, maps, and charts to introduce new concepts and vocabulary. Graphic organizers are extremely effective to help ELL students visualize, understand and organize information.
- Direct English language instruction: ELL students require direction instruction individually or in a small group to provide support with vocabulary, grammar, writing and other English language skills depending on the needs of the students.
- Language Rich Environment: Give students many opportunities to engage in all four modes of language: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Have a large collection of books in a variety of genres and about different cultures. Provide a variety of literacy center activities. Include many visuals, posters and charts on the walls.