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Teaching English Language Learners in the Content Areas

Overview of ELL Strategies

Anna Jasch

on 4 June 2014

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Transcript of Teaching English Language Learners in the Content Areas

Anna Jasch
Walden University
Professor Judith Blakely
EDUC 6728: Strategies for Teaching Content to English Language Learners
April 7, 2013

Teaching English Language Learners in the Content Areas:
How can I effectively teach the English Language Learners in my classroom?
-According to recent research, there is a "strong relationship between extensive student vocabulary and academic achievement" (Egbert & Ernst-Slavit, 2010, p. 110). Focusing on vocabulary and language development will help raise the achievement level of not only the ELLs in your classroom, but also their English-speaking peers.

-All teachers are language teachers. Language is the most used vehicle through which teachers and textbooks impart knowledge. It is also the means through which state and teacher-developed assessments evaluate student knowledge and skills. Language is developed in context, and there is a specialized language necessary for success in each content-area. Through focusing on not only content-area knowledge, but also the language that is necessary to access and express that knowledge, we help ensure the academic success of all students.
-Brainstorm ways to integrate technology into English language learning in your classroom.
-Create mind-maps to help students develop their vocabulary.
-Create a class wikispace. It's a free way to create an authentic audience and allow students to share their products with family and friends.
-Use educational videos to provide visuals and bring learning to life.Try sites such as http://brainpop.com, http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/
-Use http://prezi.com, SMART notebook, other presentation software to create interactive and engaging presentations!
-One particular area of challenge for many English Language Learners will undoubtedly be acquiring the academic, technical vocabulary needed to access and express content-area knowledge. Through using mind-mapping software, classrooms can integrate technology and vocabulary development.

-Another effective strategy is to create school-wide sentence starters for scaffolding conversations. The more students practice using language in a variety of contexts, the more likely they will be to acquire the language that is necessary for success in school and beyond. Egbert and Ernst-Slavit (2010) provide this example of sentence starters that can be used for a variety of purposes and content-areas (p. 155-156).
So get to it!
And light your students' passion for knowledge and the English language on fire!
-English Language Learners face a double-barreled challenge in the classroom. Not only must they learn the same grade-level standards as their English-speaking peers, but they must also acquire basic English language skills.

-The best place to begin to address these challenges is to assess their current English language proficiencies: make classroom observations, analyze student work, talk with their ELD teacher and look at previous state testing records.
The Challenge

Egbert, J. & Ernst-Slavit. G. (2010). Access to academics: Planning instruction for K-12 classrooms with ELLs. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Additional Resources
Pass, C. & Mantero, M. (2009). (Un)Covering the ideal: Investigating exemplary
language arts teachers’ beliefs and instruction of English language learners.
Critical Inquiry in Language Studies, 6(4), 269–291.
English Language Arts
Social Studies
Mathematical terms have many synonyms. For example, the symbol + can be represented by the words: add, plus, combine, sum, total, in all, altogether. Direct instruction on these and other terms will support English Language Learners academic progress in the mathematics classroom.
As well, ELL's will significantly benefit from using manipulatives and other hands-on activities in the classroom that reduce the linguistic load and make learning concrete.
Using the "Think-Pair-Share" activity allows ELLs to develop mathematical language while at the same time, reducing anxiety for students who are learning the language. When asking a question to the class, give students a minute to first discuss their answer with a partner.
Because of the high levels of literacy and prior knowledge that the Social Studies curriculum often demands of students, this may be a particularly challenging content-area subject for many ELLs.
By focusing on text-features and other reading comprehension strategies, teachers can help ELLs be successful in the Social Studies classroom.
Have students develop questions as they read, turn headings into questions for students to answer, model fluent reading and critical thinking skills (Berkeley, Marshak, Mastropiers & Scruggs, 2010). Combining these literacy skills with content-area knowledge will help students access the texts.
Use a KWL chart to tap into students experiences and lives. Use that information to build and connect on current topic.
•Berkley, S., Marshak, L., Mastropieri, M. A., & Scruggs, T. E. (2011). Improving student comprehension of social studies text: A self-questioning strategy for inclusive middle school classes. Remedial and Special Education, 32(2), 105–113.
Similar to their other content-area classes, ELLs will benefit from clear science learning objectives that focus on both language and content.
A lot of science terminology has Greek or Latin roots, and/or are cognates in the students' first languages. Use this information to help students build their academic vocabulary knowledge.
Have students create personal dictionaries with pictures, native language translations and examples to refer to. If possible, offer a preview-review activity before and after lessons to help ELLs solidify their learning.
Learning English for ELLs means acquiring basic skills in English language grammar and vocabulary. It means being able to express their needs, wants, feelings and experiences in a new language. However, it also means acquiring the grade-level vocabulary, discourse skills, reading comprehension, listening strategies and writing abilities of their native-English speaking peers. Indeed, English Language Arts and an ELL's English Language Development class are as much a separate, but intimately connected class as their other content-area classes.
Using non-linguistic representations such as graphic organizers,diagrams, charts and pictures allow students to organize their knowledge and visualize connections amongst ideas.
It is important to create meaningful and engaging activities that stimulate thinking. Although ELLs are limited in their abilities to express themselves, they are not limited in their abilities to think critically.
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