Keys to Effective Communication

Keys to Effective Communication

by Judie Haynes

Do the classroom teachers in your school need strategies to help them communicate more effectively with English language learners? Just stick this article in their mailboxes.

Classroom teachers need to gain a better understanding of successful strategies for communicating with English langage learners. It is the ESL teacher’s role to help them with this task. We can begin this effort by providing professional development on communication strategies. This can be done at staff meetings, inservice days or by simply putting this article in teachers’ mailboxes.

The following tips are keys to good communication that all teachers need to keep in mind when teaching new learners of English.

  1. Ask newcomers to point to a picture or word to demonstrate basic knowledge. “Point to the penguin.
  2. >Using visual cues, ask simple yes/no questions such as “Are penguins mammals?”
  3. Embed the response in the question using “either/or”. "Is a penguin a mammal or a bird?”
  4. Break complex questions into several steps. Simplify your vocabulary. Instead of asking “What characteristics do mammals share?" say “Look at the mammals. Find the bear, the dog and the cat. How are they the same?"
  5. Ask simple "how" and "where" questions that can be answered with a phrase or a short sentence. "Where do penguins live?" Do not expect your ELLs to answer broad open-ended questions.
Note: This article was previously printed in the NYSTESOL's Winter 2004 issue of Idiom.

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