Quick Tips

Short, helpful tips for the educator in the hurry


feature!Focus on the positive

The more comfortable ESL newcomers feel in your classroom, the quicker they will be able to learn. Focus on the positive and on what your students can do. Don't dwell on all that they can't yet do. Create frequent opportunities for their success in your class. Give lots of encouragement and praise.

Tie culture to your curriculum

Tie the cultures of your second language learners to your curriculum. Children with diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds have stories and experiences that are unique. Teachers should build on the background knowledge and cultures their students bring from their home countries.

feature!Communicative competency does not equal academic success

Your ELLs may interact well with classmates but be floundering academically. BICS (Basic Interpersonal Communication skills) may be learned quickly. However, CALP (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiencies) may take 5 to 10 years to acquire. If your students are unable to understand your language arts or social studies lessons, they have acquired BIC skills but lack CALP.

feature!Make language input comprehensible

In order to acquire English, ELLs need to understand what is said to them. The message should be appropriate to their language level. This language should be just beyond the learners’ current proficiency but easy enough for them to understand. Develop ELLs’ background knowledge through the use of gestures, pictures and realia to make input comprehensible.

Foster social interaction

Provide a variety of activities for newcomers. Set limits on the amount of time English language learners listen to CDs or work on a computer individually. They need to interact with native speakers of English. Social acceptance is a powerful motivator for learning a new language.

Develop pride in cultures

Help your students develop pride in their cultures. Display pictures in your classroom from your students' home counties. Have newcomers write in a home-language diary, read books in their home language, draw pictures of people and places in their home countries, and listen to native language music.

Develop background knowledge

Teachers need to develop background knowledge, deliver content that is contextualized, and use gestures, pictures and realia to make input comprehensible. When newcomers are assigned to a mainstream classroom and spend most of their day in this environment it is especially critical for them to receive comprehensible input from their teachers and classmates. If that teacher lectures in the front of a classroom, the English language learner will not be receiving this input.

Create an effective learning environment

Classroom teachers who create an effective learning environment for ELLs set a classroom atmosphere that promotes the rapid integration of newly arrived students into the life of the school. They provide an environment that is non-threatening and have a good understanding of the needs of their newcomers.

Larry Ferlazzo's Interview with Judie Haynes

Every month Larry Ferlazzo interview people in the education. September's interview is with Judie Haynes. Read this interview at Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day.

Flat Classroom Projects for 2011-2012

"A Week in the Life" is an outstanding Flat Classroom® Project for elementary school students to learn about other cultures. The curriculum focus is interdisciplinary and addresses how we live, how we communicate, cultural understanding and awareness. Get all the details at Flat Classroom

Creating a Welcoming Environment for Parents of ELLs

We need to make ELL parents feel comfortable in our schools by validating their culture and establishing a welcoming environment. Podcasts, translations,and other communications from schools inform parents but don't necessarily engage them. Face-to-face meetings are crucial. Change doesn't happen overnight. Keep a positive attitude and keep trying!

School Book Clubs

An idea gleaned from the August 8th #ELLCHAT discussion is about discussing co-teaching or collaboration through a school-based book club. This is an excellent way for teachers to talk about their thoughts and feelings on collaborative teaching.

2011 English Language Learner Symposium in PA

On August 3rd I was delighted to presented at the 2011 English Language Learner Symposium in PA. This conference was organized by the Chester County Intermediate Unit along with the PA DOE. For those who attended, I promised a link to a list of technology resources.

Culturally Responsive Teaching and ELLs

Tonight's topic on #ELLCHAT is about Culturally Responsive Teaching. Join us to explore how Geneva Gay's work can be tied to how English language learners should be taught in the general education classroom.

Matthew Lynch's blog on Education Week

I always hesitate to reply to a blog that is filled with half truths and misinformation because that brings attention to the misinformation. I couldn't resist, however, leaving a comment on Matthew Lynch's blog in Education News. Supporting English Language Learners See my blog for further comments Comments on Matthew Lynch's artilce

Using technology in the classroom

Try out this series of webinars from Edutopia to help you learn to use Wordle, Storybird, Voicethread and other Web 2.0 technologies in the classroom. You don't have to be a new teacher to benefit from this information. New Teacher Boot Camp.

Using iPads with ELLs

The number one tech product for English Language Learners is an iPad. An iPad allows ELLs to access hundreds of applications that will help them learn English and many of them are free. Check out my article on iPads for ELLs. Using iPads with ELLs .

Meeting the Home Language Mandate

Meeting the Home Language Mandate by early childhood expert Karen Nemeth is a must read for those educators who are involved in preschool education. Nemeth emphasizes the important role early childhood educators play in ensuring that young dual language learners retain skills in their home language while building new English language skills. You can find this article at Meeting the Home Language Mandate

Anxiety impedes learning

A good relationship with the classroom teacher and classmates can help newcomers cope with the challenges they face. If ELLs do not feel secure in school, their learning will be hindered. Conversely, the more positive the newcomers' experience in school, the more rapid their acquisition of language.

Using Music to Teach Language to ELLs

On the April 11th ELLCHAT, a Twitter discussion group for teachers of English language learners, we discussed the benefits of using music and drama in to teach English to ELLs. One of our participants asked the groups' thoughts about bilingual songs that switch between languages. This blog is the result of that discussion. Using Music to Teach Language to ELLS.

Blogs and Twitter by Judie Haynes

Keep up with what is current in the field of teaching English language learners. Read one of my two blogs. Getting Started with English Language Learners is on ASCD EDge, a new network for teachers on the ASCD website. everythingESL is on blogspot. You can also follow me on Twitter. My Twitter name is judiehaynes.

Who are the ELLs in Your Classroom?

English language learners represent a significant and growing population. Today about 66 % of the ELLs in U.S.schools come from non-literacy-oriented homes. Half of them were born in the United States. Read Who are the ELLs in Your Classroom by Judie Haynes and Debbie Zacarian for more information.

Why I'm Advocating for Direct Vocabulary Instruction

Read Alina Davis' blog about direct vocabulary instruction on the ASCD's Inservice site. Why I'm Advocating for Direct Vocabulary Instruction. Debbie Zacarian and I were happy to read her follow-up to our workshop at ASCD in San Francisco.

Using Music to Teach Language to ELLs

On the April 11th #ELLCHAT, a Twitter discussion group for teachers of English language learners, we discussed the benefits of using music and drama in to teach English to ELLs. One of our participants asked the groups’ thoughts about bilingual songs that switch between languages. This blog is the result of that discussion. Using Bilingual Music to Teach Language to ELLS.

Keeping up with what's current

Keep up with what is current in the field of teaching English language learners. Read one of my two blogs. Getting Started with English Language Learners is on ASCD EDge, a new network for teachers on the ASCD website. everythingESL is on blogspot. You can also follow me on Twitter. My Twitter name is judiehaynes.

Meet me Online!

Join me on September 21st from 3:00-4:00 EDT in a discussion of Myths of Second Language Acquisition. This online seminar is sponsored by the Association for Supervisors and Curriculum Developers (ASCD). Register now, it's free!

Provide ELLs with a source of natural communication

Children acquire language through a subconscious process during which they are unaware of grammatical rules. This is similar to the way they acquire their first language. They get a feel for what is and what isn’t correct. In order to acquire language, the learner needs a source of natural communication.

Myths of Second Language Acquisition Questions?

If you missed my webinar "The Myths of Second Language Acquisition," ASCD has posted an archive of the event. If you have any questions about the talk, feel free to find me on twitter @judiehaynes for a follow up. You can also ask questions on the everythingESL Facebook fan page.

Make lessons visual and kinesthetic

Two methods of helping your English language learners (ELLs) acquire content knowledge are: Provide plenty of visual clues to meaning and assign "hands-on" tasks. Visuals include pictures, photographs, realia, maps, graphic organizers and charts. Hands-on activities that help ELLs are collaborative projects such as mobiles, murals, demonstrations, science experiments, timelines, and pictures with labels.

Judie Haynes on Twitter

Follow Judie Haynes, professional development provider and advocate for English Language Learners, on judiehaynes at Twitter.com. It's easy to set up a Twitter account and the information for educators is astounding. Don't be left behind. Develop a Personal Learning Network (PLN) and see what's out there.

Check for comprehension

Check comprehension frequently. If you ask "Do you understand?" you will not receive a reliable response. Many students will answer "yes" when they do not understand. Your question should be more specific. Allow a response in the form of drawing, pointing, gestures, and mime. Students can also respond using a word bank that you have provided.

Allow translation time

Newcomers are translating the language they hear back to their native language, formulating a response and then translating that response into English. Allow extra time for this translation.

Comprehensible input

Students do not acquire language in a vacuum. It does not seep into their brains when they sit in a classroom. Comprehensible Input is an essential part of Stephen Krashen's Input Hypothesis. This hypothesis maintains that in order to acquire a second language, the learner must understand what is said to him. Learners should receive input that is appropriate to their age and language level. This language should be just beyond the learner's current proficiency but easy enough for them to understand. Teachers need to develop background knowledge, deliver content that is contextualized, and use gestures, pictures and realia to make input comprehensible.When newcomers are assigned to a mainstream classroom and spend most of their day in this environment it is especially critical for them to receive comprehensible input from their teachers and classmates. If that teacher lectures in the front of a classroom, the English language learner will not be receiving this input.

Help ELLs negotiate meaning

Provide ELLS with opportunities for negotiating meaning. Comprehensible input is not enough to guarantee comprehension. Your students need the opportunity to interact in a meaningful way with peers who speak English.

Help students develop cognitive skills

Encourage the parents of your English language learners to use their native languages at home. Explain to them that cognitive growth in native language helps their children develop English academic language. It is easier to teach the water cycle, for example, if the student has already learned it in their own language.

Provide time-outs

Provide frequent "time-out from English" periods for newcomers. Allow the newcomer to spend time each day during those first weeks speaking with others of the same native language. He or she needs to ask someone "What's going on here?"

Be aware of culture shock

The newcomers in your classroom are probably suffering from culture shock. Being in a strange place and losing the power to communicate can be quite painful. Creating an environment where the newcomer feels secure will lessen the intensity and duration of culture shock.

Comprehensible output

Comprehensible output is crucial for students learning English. ELLs need to negotiate meaning through interactions with fluent English speakers. This exchange provides second language learners with corrective feedback and knowledge about how to communicate their ideas.

Explain BICS and CALP

Do the mainstream teachers in your school know the difference between BICS (Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills) and CALP (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency)? Explain that BICS may take up to 2 years to develop and CALP may take 5-10 years. Ability to speak English does not mean the student is able to work academically in English.

Reading strategies are universal

Students who are already literate in native language learn to read at a higher level in English than those who are not. Literacy related skills are transferred from one language to another even if the writing systems are quite different. However, only concepts that are completely learned will make that transfer. Building native language literacy is important.

Support home language development

Promote the maintenance of home languages. Encourage the parents of your ELLS to develop literacy skills in native language. Whatever your students learn in their home languages will eventually be transferred to English.

Cooperative learning fosters social interaction.

ELLs need opportunities to practice language at their level of English language competency. Cooperative learning groups are one way for new language learners to practice English. A small group setting allows for more comprehensible input because the teacher or classmates modify or adapt the message to the listener’s needs.

Try to learn a few new words

Join with the your mainstream students to learn a few words in your newcomer's native language. When you show your good humor about making mistakes and risking smiles and laughter, your newcomer will be more willing to risk speaking in English.

Respect newcomers "silent period"

Don't force your newcomers to speak before they are ready. ELLs will acquire language when they have comprehensible input and their affective filter is low. Allow students a "silent period" during which they acquire language by listening and understanding English.

Assessing ELLs for learning disabilities

The referral of an English Language Learner (ELL) by the Child Study Team should not be taken lightly. All avenues must be explored before a second language learner is identified for special education. It is important when evaluating ELLs to throw away the traditional testing model and to collect data in a portfolio. Input from the ESL/Bilingual teacher, the classroom teacher, and the parents should all be considered during the assessment process. Students should be tested in native language unless they speak a language for which there is no test. At this time, a trained interpreter can be used.

Teach the text backwards

It is very difficult for ELLs to understand a textbook if it is taught in the traditional sequence: Read text, answer questions, discuss, apply information. When teaching the text backwards you do an application such as a science experiment first. Then you discuss the material in class, and answer the questions at the end of the chapter. Reading the text is the last thing you have students do.

Encourage the development of native language literacy

Encourage the parents of your students to develop literacy skills in native language. Whatever your students learn in their home languages will eventually be transferred to English.

Emphasize key words

Write the key words of a lesson on the chalkboard so that students have visual as well as auditory input. Emphasize these key words. Print clearly and legibly. Many of your students will not be able to read cursive writing. When writing notes home to parents, print your message and use a pen with black or blue ink. In some cultures red is the color of death.

Teach to your newcomer's learning mode

Most newcomers learn best kinesthetically. Don’t expect them to sit and listen to incomprehensible auditory input for long periods of time. Use gestures, drawings, sketches, drama, or other visual support. Give students hands-on activities to complete.

Be an active listener!

When listening to your newcomers as they learn to speak, give feedback, nods, encouragement, and praise. Give your whole attention when trying to understand the communication. Demonstrate your patience through your body language.

Use diversity as a resource

Students with diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds bring a wealth of experiences from their families and homes to school. They have unique experiences to share. Teachers should take advantage of the natural resource in their classrooms and use this diversity as a starting point for all children to value the many distinct cultures of the world.

Provide a positive educational experience

The first months are key to the academic success of newcomers. If you want your new students to become an integral part of the school community, you will need to assure that students with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds have a positive educational and social experience while in you school

Teach about fire drills

Schools in many countries do not conduct fire drills and the noise made by the bell can be frightening for a newcomer. Ask a bilingual person to explain what a fire drill is before your newcomers start school.

Give simple directions

Give clear, simple directions to ESL students. Break complex directions down into simple steps. Ask students to retell, in their own words, what you are asking them to do before they attempt a task.

Encourage participation in class

Help students to participate in your class by letting them know which question you are going to ask in advance. This will give your students the time to prepare a response. This is most effective if your ELL feels secure in the content area. For example, a good math student should be asked to participate in math class.

Assign a buddy!

A buddy or cross-grade tutor who speaks the newcomer's language is a wonderful asset at the beginning of the school year. During the adjustment phase, the buddy or cross-grade tutor can explain what's going on. You may want to rotate buddies so that the bilingual buddy does not miss too much work.

Use manuscript writing

Your newcomers and their parents may know the Roman alphabet but will probably not be able to read cursive writing. Either write in manuscript or ask a mainstream student to copy homework in manuscript.

Make an I.D. card for newcomers

More than one newly arrived student has become lost during their first few days of school and this is a terrifying experience. Write the newcomer’s name, home address, telephone number and school address on an index card. The student should keep this card in his/her pocket.

Learn that name correctly!

Determine which part of a newcomer's name is the given name and which is the family name. Two-part first names are common in many cultures, and may appear to be a first name and a middle name. Ask. Use both parts of a two-part name.(Asian names are given in reverse order from ours; this may or may not have been reversed in the office.) Hispanic family names may also be two-part. Saying the name right isn't always easy, but it's important.

Pronounce that name correctly!

Don’t let your new student lose his/her name. Write it on the board with a phonetic translation. Practice until you can say it correctly. Don’t Americanize a student’s name unless requested by parents.

Be generous with thanks

Thanks and praise will go a long way with your English-speaking buddies and cross-age tutors.Let them know that you appreciate their efforts. Acknowledge their contributions frequently and point out the progress newcomers in your class have made.

Where should newcomers sit?

Give advance thought to where you will seat an incoming student so the decision doesn’t have to be made on the spot. Put a new student near your desk so you can provide help or near a student who has been trained as a buddy. Avoid front-row center. If your class sits in groups, place newcomers with sociable English speakers.

Avoid drawing unwanted attention to newcomer

If you have something important to convey, speak one-on-one to the newcomer rather than in front of the class. The anxiety of being in the spotlight interferes with comprehension.

Keep a list of translators

Keep a list of the people in your building who speak the languages of your students so that classroom teachers have a resource when they need someone to translate important instructions. Make sure that the main office and the school nurse have a copy of these lists.

Enlist parent volunteers

If possible, have parent volunteers or older students who speak the newcomers' languages take your new students on a tour of the important places in your school. Have a bilingual student or parent show newcomers immediately where the bathrooms are and explain what the rules are for leaving the classroom.