Many schools across the country seek to bring diverse populations of students together, including native speaking students and ESL students. In some areas of the country, the number of ESL students might be quite high.
You want your ESL students to succeed, but you also want your native speaking students to have the opportunity to reach their full potential. What are some suggestions for incorporating ESL strategies that will benefit all of your students?
Many people assume that all ESL students are the same. You can't just say, "This lesson plan is fit for all ESL students." Just as your native speaking students have differences, so do your ESL students.
As you're crafting the lesson plans, you should:
- Some of your ESL students might be verbal/linguistic learners
- Other student may be bodily/kinesthetic learners
Accounting for differences that exist amongst ESL students is crucial so that you can meet their educational needs.
Before you teach any subject you need to know several things about your ESL students:
One of the top tips for teaching ESL students in the mainstream classroom is to use visual learning aids. Even if some of your ESL students are not purely visual learners, they will likely still benefit from your incorporation of these learning aids. When you are explaining a concept, some of the ESL students might get lost because they don't understand the vocabulary you are using.
By using a graph, chart, picture or video, ESL students can gain a better understanding of what you are talking about. These visual aids can also help many of the native speaking students to understand what you are talking about or teaching.
Some ESL students can become very frustrated and confused when they are not able to quickly understand what you want them to do. They may be spending all their concentration on trying to understand the words as they are spoken, without comprehending the lesson or assignment being communicated. By writing down any information given orally, you can give your ESL students a reference point for any future confusion. For example:
When ESL students are looking for the right word, you don't want them to feel as though they are lost in a black hole.
These tools help students find the words that they need to learn.
The more you use a simple sentence structure (a subject, a verb and an object), the greater your chance of comprehension by an ESL student. If you say or write sentences which include phrases with negative words (such as circle the answer that is not correct) the ESL student needs to comprehend two things to understand what you are saying:
Be sure to speak slowly and clearly. Look for cues, like facial expressions, to know when you need to repeat or reexplain what you just said or wrote.
If your ESL students never learn idiomatic expressions, they are going to struggle with the English language as a whole. Unfortunately, some teachers choose to avoid these cliches whenever possible to avoid confusing their ESL students.
Another technique is to use them into your speech and turn them into their own lessons. By creating these separate lesson plans and word lists, you can encourage students to learn idioms without allowing these phrases to disrupt the flow of your lessons.
In the classroom, you are likely to be using formal language. However, part of fully understanding a language is also knowing how to speak to others in a casual manner.
These small group discussions can give them the confidence they need to participate in larger group discussions and presentations.
You want to remind students that it is okay to ask questions. If you are giving a brief lecture, they might feel as though they are interrupting you. Understand that students from certain cultural backgrounds might feel this pressure even more.
Frequently ask students if they have any questions. An ESL student might hold a question until the end, even though it would be helpful to get the answer immediately. Encourage questions from all students on an on-going basis.
If your ESL students are more comfortable talking to other students than adults, encourage students to work together. Pairing students off or into small work groups can encourage questions from the ESL student.
Correcting errors can be difficult to implement, especially for ESL students who are really quite dedicated to properly learning the English language.
Work on addressing one or two areas at a time. For example, let's say that the student writes the following sentence, "She walk to the park and they waits for she." Here, we have three issues:
Instead of delving into all of these areas at once, you can point out the three errors. Break up how you review them. For example, you might write the rule for two on the student's paper, but review the third with the class as a whole. Of course, you should not point out who made which errors.
Ultimately, your goal with these tips is to provide all of your students with the tools they need to succeed in their academic experience overall, regardless of whether English is or is not their native language.