English Language Learners (ELL) and English-as-a-second language (ESL) students are commonplace across the US from Maine to New Mexico and everywhere in between. Given that fact, all elementary-school teachers need to have a plan to help ESL students adjust to the rhythms of a new environment and a new language. The good news is, you don’t have to attain an ESL instructor’s license in order to effectively work with ESL students in the classroom. Rather, simply follow these five best practices for teaching elementary ESL students:
Most elementary-school students will benefit from increased visual stimulation in the classroom. While this certainly can include traditional teaching tools like videos or physical props, teachers should also look to utilize modern technology to supplement their lessons. A few well placed images, graphics, or photos can greatly increase a child’s understanding and interest in a lecture.
Reading aloud is a simple way to engage your classroom on multiple levels. This will specifically give young students the opportunity to connect with the language on a visual and auditory level at the same time. In addition, by reading aloud teachers can pause at strategic moments to hammer home a few major points.
Focus on Key Words & Concepts
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Trying to learn a new language is a process, and teachers need to be patient with their ELL and ESL students. Consider focusing on a few key vocabulary terms every day and incrementally increase your students’ workload over time. When students feel overwhelmed they can become uninterested or disengaged –– so exercise patience when addressing ESL students.
Schedule Extracurricular Meetings
Many ESL or ELL students will take courses outside of their daily school schedule with ESL-licensed teachers. It’s a good idea, then, for elementary-school educators to reach out to these educators to collaborate. What’s more, taking time out to touch base with an ESL student after class individually or to meet with their family will go a long way toward 1) making them feel welcome and 2) helping you assess their skills and needs.
Classroom atmosphere and environment can have a major effect on how well students perform in their studies. After all, when people feel comfortable and happy, they’re much more likely to stay motivated and focused. Therefore, fun and collaborative projects (like tossing the Qball around, for instance) can have a positive emotional and scholastic effect on all of your students –– and particularly those striving to learn English.
Reaching ESL or ELL students at the elementary level can present a unique challenge for educators. The key is to keep a positive frame of mind and to focus on encouraging development. Remember to track your students’ progress over time and remind them just how far they’ve come! Lastly, there’s no better way to inject a little positivity into your classroom than by playing educational games with the Qball. This fun, throwable microphone engages students of all ages and drastically improves the sound quality in every classroom. Don’t wait –– buy your Qball today!