High school-aged ESL students have many challenges that a younger ESL student may not face. In addition to learning the language and culture, they are also involved more with their peers, in their community and they may be thinking about their post-high school education and employment plans.
ESL classroom activities for high school students can provide the help these students need to perform well in society. No matter what the background is of your ESL students, they need help with vocabulary words, idioms, asking and answering questions and confidence buildling in order to be successful in and after high school.
Whether you have been teaching ESL students for years or this is your first time doing so, it's important to understand the needs and issues of ESL learners in the high school setting. Students in this position are feeling a lot of pressure to:
These are major issues that should not be taken lightly, and they are all intensified for ESL students. Both academically and culturally, ESL students have struggles that their native speaking peers do not share. As a result, you need to implement teaching strategies that address these challenges and seek to overcome them.
Quite a number of useful tips can help to guide you toward developing the right teaching strategies, lesson plans and activities for your high school ESL students.
In high school, students have a multitude of subjects to explore. From geometry and chemistry to literature and creative writing, their classes range across the spectrum.
Teachers in the various subject areas must understand that ESL students:
Therefore, teaching vocabulary before starting to teach a concept, as well as avoiding cliches and idioms, are crucial strategies for classroom success with ESL students.
At this point in their educational careers, high school students are involved in fairly in-depth reading and writing activities. They are likely reading novels and learning how to write a research paper. For students who struggle with English vocabulary and grammar, these tasks are particularly challenging. Therefore, you must scaffold reading and writing activities.
Ideas for scaffolding in reading include:
Ideas for scaffolding in writing include:
These strategies help to break down the processes and make them more managable for ESL students.
Simply lecturing in front of the class is not going to be effective for an ESL student. He or she is unlikely to understand a decent portion of what you are saying.
Instead of just speaking at your students, add visual aids to further explain your point. For example:
When you give out assignments to your class, do not always ask them to write something or orally present in front of the classroom. Instead, you can ask that they put together a PowerPoint presentation, draw a picture or make a model to demonstrate their ideas.
Including activities that don't require speaking or writing can be excellent ways to get ESL students involved in a subject. Having the students draw a picture or play an instrument can be fun ways for students to interpret what they are learning and seeing using skills with which they feel comfortable.
History teachers can tell students about an event, teach them the vocabulary of the event, show them pictures or movies and let them ask questions. Then, instead of a written assignment, the teacher can ask the students to pick part of the event and illustrate it.
English teachers can read poetry to students, teach them the vocabulary and then ask them to illustrate the poem or its meaning with a drawing or by playing a musical instrument.
If students are afraid to participate in the classroom discussions or believe that every answer they give is wrong, they are never going to get the confidence that they need.
When you are developing effective classroom activities for high school students, you can make modifications to assignments for the ESL students:
Remember that students are expected to meet certain standards, and they may have to pass important state tests at the end of the year. Without passing these state tests, they might not be able to graduate high school. Do not make so many modifications that you limit their knowledge-building. If so, you run the risk of ruining your students' chances of succeeding on these exams.
Following these tips will help you to better develop lessons for high school classrooms containing ESL students.
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