ESL Teacher Resources

Facilitating Language Acquisition in the Classroom

Create an environment that facilitates language learning.

  • Actively engage students in challenging learning activities.
  • Use interactive activities so ELL students talk with their peers and use academic English.
  • Use concrete, hands-on activities (and language) before more abstract (and language) activities.
  • Create and atmosphere in which ELL students feel safe in taking risks with both English and content.

Adjust teacher talk to increase comprehensibility.

  • Face the students.
  • Pause frequently.
  • Paraphrase often.
  • Clearly indicate the most important ideas and vocabulary through intonation or writing on the blackboard.
  • Avoid “asides”.
  • Avoid or clarify pronouns.
  • Use shorter sentences.
  • Use subject-verb-object word order.
  • Increase wait time for students to answer.
  • Focus on the student’s meaning, not grammar.
  • Avoid interpreting on a regular basis.

Support or scaffold ELL student language development

  • Ask questions in simplified language.
  • Establish a pattern in the questions.
  • Ask for elaboration, “Tell me more about…”.
  • Be a good listener (eye contact, non-verbal support, plenty of time).
  • Provide encouragement to continue “Uh-huh.  Really?  What happened then?”.
  • Provide difficult words.
  • Ask for clarification, “I’m not sure I understand.  Can you say it again?”.
  • Paraphrase what the student said.
  • Interaction is high.