5 Step Plan for English Language Learners

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5 Step Plan for English Language Learners by Mind Map: 5 Step Plan for English Language Learners

1. Step 2 – Introduce culture into the classroom

1.1. Who: Teacher, ELL student, classroom student

1.2. What: The teacher will work with the ELL student to teach the class about the student’s culture and language.

1.3. Where: The student’s classroom.

1.4. When: Shortly after the ELL student joins the class.

1.5. Why: Students who feel accepted in their classroom will learn more quickly. Because many US students may harbor stereotypes about foreign students, teaching them about other cultures will help to dispel those stereotypes.

1.6. How: Ask the ELL student what they feel comfortable sharing with the class, and how involved they want to be. Using the existing structure of the class, the teacher should provide the student an opportunity to teach the class something about their culture. It can be as simple as having the student teach others a greeting in their native language, or something more involved, such as a longer presentation about how they used to live, what they used to eat, etc. Teaching a native dance, if applicable, would also be an interesting way to incorporate the student’s culture. The teacher can also step in to lead the lessons if the student is not comfortable enough yet.

2. Step 1 – Learn about student’s culture

2.1. Who: Teacher, student, parents or guardians, and translator (if needed).

2.2. What: The teacher will meet with the student and parents/guardians at their home if possible, to learn more about the student’s home life and culture. If the teacher believes the family does not speak enough English for basic conversations, she should bring a translator.

2.3. Where: Student’s home if possible, otherwise in the teacher’s classroom.

2.4. When: As soon as possible upon the student being assigned to a teacher.

2.5. Why: It is important that the teacher understand the student’s cultural differences in order to anticipate and address potential conflicts. It also builds trust between the student, family, and teacher, which is essential to creating an environment conducive to learning.

2.6. How: The teacher will set a meeting with the student and their family, using a translator if necessary. If available, a translator may also provide some cultural context before meeting with the family. The teacher should ask questions about the family’s daily life, how they are adjusting to their new home, and solicit questions or concerns they may have. The teacher should avoid potentially difficult questions, such as asking about immigration status or why they left their home country, at least until a good level of trust is built. The teacher may be able to get that information from a case worker if the student has one. The teacher should go in to the meeting with some research already done about the student’s culture, so she can ask meaningful questions and also show her genuine interest in learning about the student and her family.

3. Step 3 – Emphasize Conversation

3.1. Who: Teacher, all classroom students

3.2. What: Incorporate conversation in a many activities as possible.

3.3. Where: The student’s classroom.

3.4. When: Throughout their class.

3.5. Why: Students learn foreign languages better through conversation. And, since a student’s primary method of communicating with their peers is through speaking, building their speaking skills early will boost their self-confidence and enhance their learning.

3.6. How: Teachers should provide opportunities for all students to converse in a variety of settings. It may be appropriate for the teacher to have individual conversations with the student initially, to assess the student’s level of comprehension, and to better tailor future lessons. Teachers should also ask students to converse in pairs or small groups, so those who are not comfortable speaking in a larger group have an opportunity to practice speaking in a low-pressure setting. Incorporating conversation into the existing structure of the class, such as having students tell a story during a morning meeting will also encourage the student to practice speaking. The teacher needs to carefully assess the student’s language skills by listening to their conversations as much as possible, to ensure the student is being challenged, but is also succeeding and building confidence in themselves.

4. Step 4 – Use existing strengths

4.1. Who: Teacher, student

4.2. What: The teacher will capitalize on the ELL student’s existing strengths and interests, and incorporate them into learning opportunities.

4.3. Where: The classroom, outside the classroom.

4.4. When: Throughout the ELL student’s education.

4.5. Why: Students who are learning English may have had formal schooling in their native language, and so they may not be behind grade level. Encouraging students to pursue topics of interest allows students to focus on learning the language, rather than language and new content at the same time.

4.6. How: The teacher should have gained insight into the student’s interests during her initial meeting with the student and family. The teacher should ask the student to participate in lessons surrounding that topic. So, if a student is very strong at math, the teacher should be sure to ask the student to help with the math lessons, possibly by leading a small group with a counting exercise. The teacher should say things like “I don’t know much about ___________, so you’ll have to help me learn!” The teacher can also encourage the student to pursue their interests outside the classroom, and can direct the student to resources that are appropriate for their English abilities.

5. Step 5 – Incorporate visuals

5.1. Who: Teacher

5.2. What: The teacher should maximize the use of visual cues throughout the classroom.

5.3. Where: Student’s classroom.

5.4. When: Throughout the student’s education.

5.5. Why: Visual cues and context are essential to learning a new language. A student may not know the word for “bed” right off the top of their head, but if they see a picture of a bed, they may be able to come up with it themselves. If they are being introduced to entirely new words, a visual can provide a reference for the next time they hear the word.

5.6. How: The teacher should design visual aids to use during her lessons to provide context. The teacher can place labels throughout the classroom to highlight common words and concepts. Teachers can differentiate lessons by having ELL student draw pictures to remind themselves of certain words and concepts, instead of writing about those concepts. Books with pictures can be recommended for students to read during a silent reading time, so that students can derive context from the illustrations. Teachers could ask students to write sentences based on a picture, using a drawing that has relatively straightforward elements, and giving more advanced students more difficult pictures to interpret.