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Basic Tips for ESL/ELL Instruction

Almost every classroom in the United States has children whose first language is not English. Early Childhood teaching strategies are very appropriate for working with this population of children. Here are a few tips for teachers with ESL children in their classrooms:

Teachers first need to adjust their overall teaching style. Specifically teachers should:

  • Develop a student centered approach
  • Speak a little more slowly (not louder)
  • Use shorter sentences
  • Increase the percentage of inferential and higher order thinking questions
  • Provide correction for language errors by modeling, not overt correction

Teachers must also activate prior knowledge: Specifically teachers must:

  • Understand that in order for material to be meaningful, it must be clearly related to existing knowledge that the children already possess. Find out what they know about and use that to jumpstart their learning of the English language!

And finally, teachers must use as many of the senses (seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting) and visual aids as possible to present information to students. Specifically teachers should:

  • Provide numerous pictures to illustrate new words. You must use realistic materials, maps, photos, and manipulatives.
  • Bring in real life objects to demonstrate words and concepts
  • Use pictures to illustrate what words mean
  • Use ABC concept books for letters and content books for vocabulary

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