Top 20 Ways to Help English Learners Thrive in Your Classroom Now!


Few educators nationwide have extensive preparation and training to meet the needs of language learners in the classroom.  However, you do not need to wait to start supporting your language learners.  There are many simple and research-based ways to help them understand instruction, content, and participate in class.  Here are my top 20 (in no particular order) so you can get started helping them right away!

1) Teacher clearly and slowly models the activity for the students.

2) Students do the task at the same time as a whole class (this allows language learners to observe peers do the activity and approximate it.)

3) Allow students to point to their answer, choices, and ideas.

4) Use pictures along with words. (Need picture cards or ideas?  Here's a selection.)

5) As the teacher talks make clear gestures and facial expressions that represent the words you are saying.

6) Allow students to draw their answers, choices, and ideas.

7) Make activities that allow students to match 2 items that go together.

8) Label everything: the room, charts, items, pictures etc. (Here are some classroom labels.)

9) Give students oral or written sentence frames (e.g., "I see the ____..."; "Democracy is ______.  Democracy is not ______." etc.)

10) Work with a partner (a bilingual partner, if possible)

11) Have students complete sentences or phrases.

12) Make up and use chants with call and response about a topic.

13) Create games where students can manually classify objects or word cards under illustrated headings. (Here's a bunch of games and game ideas.)

14) Speak at a slower natural rate.

15) Use graphic organizers whenever possible. (Here are some great free graphic organizer ideas and materials for purchase.)

16) Sketch your ideas as you talk.

17) As you model, talk about what you are thinking as you do it.

18) Encourage students to use their first language if it will help them achieve the learning objective or goal.

19) Play sorting games with buckets and picture cards for content topics. (For example 3 buckets labelled odd, even, prime with a selection of number cards.  Students line up pick up a card toss it in the correct bin and go to the back of the line.

20) Bring in real life objects that relate to what you are studying whenever you can.

Happy teaching!

Tricia Gallagher-Geurtsen
Tricia Gallagher-Geurtsen


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