10 Easy Tips to Help ELLs Tune Into Learning - Learning Resources®
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10 Easy Tips to Help ELLs Tune Into Learning


Songs and chants open the door to reading because they offer a risk-free way to play with language sounds and give students a sense of rhythm, so important for fluency. Get the whole class involved by tuning into the Beginning Phonics CD & Big Book for ELLs, or the Intermediate Phonics CD & Big Book for ELLs. When you begin, use the Hand Pointer to keep everyone at the same pace and focused on the appropriate words on the Big Book page. As fluency increases students won’t need to rely on this tool as much, but you can still use it to hold your place.


Settle a bet with your pet at the vet!  Playing with word families is fun and shows ELLs how to build lots of words at once by changing beginnings. Instead of a word wall, grow a word family tree where students can hang their most creative sentences. Check out the Language Arts section for products and tools to help get your word family tree under way.


Turn reading into sport and score points with students.  Have students pick a partner, then toss out the Reading Comprehension Cubes. Cubes are color-coded to get students into pre-reading habits like observing and predicting, followed by monitoring strategies during reading, and then summarizing, retelling and evaluating after.  Keep the game going with Retell a Story Cubes that show students how to remember what they’ve read and increase comprehension. Great fun for the whole class, or give small groups different chapters for a jigsaw discussion.


Games that target specific skills motivate students to practice and focus on the skills they need most.  It’s easy to make connections through practicing letter-sound correspondence, rhyming words and spelling with Animals on the Loose™ A Beginning Phonics Game for ELLs. When students are ready for compound words, plurals and homophones, move on to Town Travels™ An Intermediate Phonics Game for ELLs. Finally, send them off on their own with the Alphaball™ Electronic Word Game to appease the video game enthusiast in each of them.


The key to promoting successful language acquisition is to give students as many access points as possible. The Graphic Organizer Pocket Chart can be used across the curriculum to stimulate visual learners, help students organize information and develop higher-order thinking skills.  Consistent use of comprehension tools in the classroom models effective thinking and planning processes.  Soon, your good habits will become theirs!


Don’t forget to create a safe environment.  Welcome students every day with a smile, treat mistakes with forgiveness and enforce an inclusive culture in your classroom.  Avoid activities like round-robin reading that put ELLs on the spot. When students feel accepted, they’re more willing to take risks and expose their doubts and questions.  That’s the first step to real language acquisition.


Create an inclusive culture by using students’ home environment as an introduction to vocabulary and language development.  All-in-one resources like the Reading Rods® for ELLs Language Patterns & Vocabulary Kit use pictures, activities and color-coded hands-on tools to focus on daily home routines, family meals, shapes or colors. Everything a teacher needs to reinforce vocabulary, oral fluency, parts of speech and sentence structure is included in this one invaluable kit. 


Self-assessment is a great motivator and helps students set and meet learning goals. The Radius™ Audio Learning System with Radius™ CD Card Set for English Language Learners: Picture Vocabulary lets kids practice the vocabulary they need for basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS). Students get immediate feedback so they can easily correct errors.  Pair this engaging technology with Reading Rods® for ELLs Vocabulary-Based Themed Readers to reinforce everyday words and language patterns.


Math and science have their own special content-area languages.  Introduce important vocabulary before starting the lesson, and you’ll give students a hook on which to hang new knowledge. The Radius™ CD Card Set for English Language Learners: Math Concepts & Vocabulary or Radius™ CD Card Set for English Language Learners: Science Concepts & Vocabulary can build students’ cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) with fun, interactive technology.   Later, direct students who finish assignments early back to this for a quick vocabulary refresher.


Looking for ways to tailor your math assessment for students with limited language skills?Hands-On Standards Books & Kits for Grades PreK-K, Grades 1-2, or Grades 3-4 give students a feel for math so they can demonstrate their abilities without words. Once students show what they know, tie those concepts to vocabulary so they can progress in their written work.
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