From the earliest grades through college, ESL learners often find that education is a bit of struggle for them; fortunately, by developing effective ESL classroom activities for elementary school students, you can start them on a pathway to success early in their educational careers.
These little ones will be able to gain a firmer understanding of the English language earlier in their lives when ESL teaching strategies are implemented into the lesson plans. As a result, they can start to build their vocabulary, understand the direct and implied meanings of words, and create a content in which they can absorb new material.
To develop effective ESL classroom activities for elementary school students, you need to understand what these learners need. Essentially, elementary school students are in search of:
While youngsters are certainly not thinking in these exact words, creating and approaching lessons with these goals in mind will help you to better speak to all students, especially ESL students.
No matter what type of activity the students are participating in, some specific strategies exist that make sense for ESL students in the elementary school setting.
Now that you have some general strategies for effective ESL teaching, you can start to design classroom activities to reinforce what you are teaching while you heighten your students' comfort with the English language.
Reading and writing might be at the core of your lessons as an elementary school teacher, but bringing in other interest areas is important to reinforce their learning. It is particulary important for the ESL student, since activities can often give the student a chance to communicate without being afraid that they will use the wrong word.
If you have both ESL students and native speaking students in your classroom, you can often plan the same activity for all students, just modifying the activity where necessary to make sure it is effective for your ESL students.
Let's say that you are asking students to write a story using 25 vocabulary words. It will probably take longer for an ESL student to complete this task, since they are not familiar with all the words. Instead, you might consider reducing the number of vocabulary words that your ESL students have to include.
Writing a series of sentences or a full paragraph or story can be daunting for the ESL student. If the same activity is given to native speakers in the classroom, the ESL student might be embarrassed if they take longer to complete their activity. An effective modification is to give the ESL student(s) a sentence, paragraph or story with words missing. Have them fill in the missing words using a word bank that you provide.
Working with other students (either other ESL students or with native speaking students) in a non-competitive environment gives ESL learners the chance to see the strengths that they possess. They will learn that they have talents and skills to bring to the group that some of their peers may not have. This would be a real confidence-builder.
The ESL experts at YourDictionary have prepared a sample lesson plan for Characters and Their Character as a great example of a group reading activity. It is included as a printable .pdf file at the beginning of this article.
The elementary school years are definitely a sensitive time, so incorporating these techniques will help to increase a student's confidence and ability.