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ELL- Strategies and Techniques

An ELL (English Language Learner) is a student who is trying to learn the English language. Non-native English speakers usually take these lessons to enhance their English speaking, reading, and comprehension skills. It is a broad term that includes those who understand and speak basic English and those who don’t understand it at all. It also includes those who learn English for academic reasons and those who learn it to enhance their career prospects.

The main goal of an ELL (English Language Learner) is to communicate with teachers and fellow students in fluent English. The objective is also to score good marks in the English subject in various examinations like the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). However, becoming proficient in English might not be easy for some students, especially those who have not been exposed to the language at an early age. As a teacher, you can adopt these ELL strategies and techniques to help such students:

Supporting students with migration-based issues

Most ELL students are those who have migrated to an English-speaking nation to pursue a professional course or degree. These students usually deal with migration-based issues like lower confidence and cultural isolation. As a teacher, you must support these students by cultivating cordial relationships with them and encouraging other students to mingle with them. You can try to understand their culture and make them open up to people.

An ELL (English Language Learner) should be provided with an environment where they feel proud of their culture and identity. Also, they should be learning English with a positive mindset. They shouldn’t perceive it as a necessity but should consider the learning opportunity as an accomplishment that must be achieved.

How to do it?

Connecting emotionally with students naturally is a skill. The English lessons must be woven around pets, family, or any other factor with which a migrant student can connect. For instance, if there are Asian students in your class, incorporating lessons with examples on cricket will help you connect with a majority of them. It will also help them open up, learn faster and connect with fellow students.

Picking up such examples to engage a diverse classroom i.e. a classroom with students of multiple cultures, backgrounds and ethnicities will also contribute to a teacher’s professional development.

Incorporating language skills throughout the curriculum

As the medium of all the subjects is English, the English Language Learners should be learning the basics of the language across their curriculum. The lessons that are taught while teaching English should be applied in enhancing the comprehension skills in all the subjects.

How to do it?

For instance, if you teach Science, ensure that the ELLs understand the definition of scientific terms and concepts in English. Give them assignments where they can research and write about a specific topic in English. If you are a Maths teacher, teach the mathematical terms and concepts in simple English so that the ELLs can grasp the concepts with ease. They must also be familiar with terms like addition, division, multiplication, subtraction, and so on. This ensures they don’t face any difficulty while learning the basics of the subject.

Identify the weak areas

Some ELLs (English Language Learners) might be able to read and understand verbal instructions in English well. However, they might not be proficient when it comes to writing and speaking in English. As a teacher, you must identify the weaker areas of these students and work to enhance their knowledge in those areas. Listening and comprehension skills are also essential. Therefore, encourage the students to raise queries and doubts if they are not able to understand the meaning of a particular phrase, word, idiom, or any other term. Passage writing can be an excellent method to test the language comprehension skills of ELLs.

How to do it?
Engage in reading sessions, give essay writing assignments and organise elocution competitions. Encourage all the ELLs of your class to participate in them. Now, observe the weaker and stronger points of each student and plan the next course of action. For example, teach how to pronounce difficult words to those students who cannot read well. Also, encourage the students to read books and newspapers to get acquainted with new words.

Speak clearly and wait for everyone to grasp the content
While delivering a lesson in English, you must speak coherently. The ELLs might not comprehend what you are explaining if you speak fast. The best approach would be to speak loudly and clearly and pause in between two sentences. It will enable the students to grasp the content and they can also get their queries resolved in that gap.
How to do it?
It might not be possible to understand properly whether you are speaking coherently or whether the students are getting what you are trying to convey. You can record classroom sessions and analyze the recordings to find out whether everything is going in the expected direction. Also, add gestures while teaching to convey your message.

Incorporating native language and using technology
Incorporating the native language of the students before explaining a particular topic could be useful. It gives the students a concise background of the topic that they are going to learn in English. For incorporating the native languages, you can use technology like Google Translate, subtitled videos, and more.

How to do it?
You can use multilingual videos and use captions to make it easy for the learners. A platform like Google Translate will help such students understand how to use phrases and words, helping them understand what it means in their native language. There is a voice typing feature in Google Docs that can help those who have trouble with spelling and writing. Use Google Image search to help students visualize the words you are teaching them.

While it may seem a little difficult when you are just starting out, eventually, it will become easier. Read as many books as possible and start with illustrated books. go through blogs and articles and take help whenever required. The point is to never give up.

Happy learning!  

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