Showing posts with label ELL strategies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ELL strategies. Show all posts

Building Vocabulary and Oral Language Skills

The good news about building vocabulary and oral language skills in for young children over the summer is it's really fun and easy! Two of the best things you can do are to allow time for free play and to spend time talking and reading with your child.

Play-based Learning

Children build vocabulary and oral language skills doing many of the things they love to do: drawing, playing with dolls and stuffed animals, playing with cars, building with blocks, dressing up, and playing pretend in a kitchen or home center. The language and conversation kids use during these play times provide a strong literacy base for a child entering kindergarten. The type of dialog that children use while playing in a home center will be very different from the language they use while building with blocks, so having a variety of activities for your child to choose from will encourage a broad range of vocabulary words incorporated into their daily play. As you are playing with your child, or observing their play, use language and vocabulary that will help them grow. Identify and explain the uses for different objects in the kitchen and use interesting language when playing with stuffed animals and dolls. Young children are like sponges, ready to soak up the language around them!

Conversations Count

Spending time engaged in conversation during your shared experiences will also help build vocabulary and oral language. Taking walks, going for bike rides, heading to the park, flying a kite, cooking together, visiting a farm or petting zoo, and even raising pets at home can all be terrific experiences for kids and give you lots to talk about. Be sure to talk to your child throughout these day-to-day experiences, using language that helps them grow in their vocabulary development. Too often parents, teachers, and caregivers will use simple words with kids. While it’s important to explain things to your child, using words within their developmental level, it’s also important to remember that kids can handle a lot more than we give them credit for. When you’re cooking with your child, ask them to get the measuring cup instead of calling it a scooper. They may have never heard that term before, but suddenly it becomes part of their vocabulary.

Thematic Explorations

Exploring passion topics such as gardening, studying rocks, planets, trees or animals can be incredibly engaging for young children. By simply finding something they are interested in, and setting up some learning experiences, children may be naturally drawn to explore and learn more. Do the birds come back to your yard when the weather warms up? Set up a basket with binoculars, books about birds, and pictures of birds that live in your area. If your child is truly interested in this topic, the questions will start flowing and it becomes another great opportunity for vocabulary development.

Poetry & Rhyme

Poetry, nursery rhymes and songs are fun and engaging for young children, but they also contribute to the foundational skills young children need in their oral language development. They will begin to hear rhyming words and be able to predict the words that are coming next in a song. When singing songs, children will learn how to articulate words and will practice pronouncing words over and over while having fun. Nursery Rhymes also provide a great opportunity for conversation with your child. Talk about how Jack and Jill might have been feeling and ask what they think happened after Jack and Jill tumbled down the hill. Spending time acting out different songs and rhymes will also help children internalize the meanings of different words they are hearing. While a child may be new to the word tumbled, they will certainly remember the meaning after playing around and tumbling across some pillows (an imaginary hill) in their living room.

Have a great 4th of July weekend!

IG Giveway Hop--10 Tips for Teaching English-Language Learners

I'm super excited to announce that Anne Rozell reached 700 followers on her Teachers Pay Teachers Store! Join in the fun to help her celebrate. This Instagram Blog Hop has 2 $70 gift cards to Teachers pay Teachers.

Paige Bessick from Our Elementary Lives has some great reading and phonics products, stop by and check them out.

Over the last couple of years, I have these activities are easier to embed in bust classrooms and very easy to do throughout the day.

1. Know your students
Increase your understanding of who your students are, their backgrounds and educational experiences.Get to know educational needs and ways to support them.

2. Be aware of their social and emotional needs
Understanding more about the students' families and their needs is key. Are student's possibly live with extended family members or have jobs to help support their families, completing homework assignments will not take priority.

3. Increase your understanding of first and second language acquisition
Although courses about second language acquisition are not required as part of teacher education programs, understanding the theories about language acquisition and the variables that contribute to language learning.

4. Student need to SWRL every day in every class
The domains of language acquisition, Speaking, Writing, Reading and Listening need to be equally exercised across content areas daily. Assuring that students are using all domains of language acquisition to support their English language development is essential.

5. Increase your understanding of English language proficiency
Social English language proficiency and academic English language proficiency are very different. A student may be more proficient in one vs. the other. A student's level of academic English may be masked by a higher level of Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) compared to their Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP). For example, a student may be able to orally recall the main events from their favorite movie but struggle to recall the main events that led up to the Civil War.

6. Know the language of your content
English has a number of polysemous words. Once a student learns and understands one meaning of a word, other meaning may not be apparent. Review the vocabulary of your content area often and check in with students to assure they know the words and possibly the multiple meanings associated with the words. For example, a "plot" of land in geography class versus the "plot" in a literature class. A "table" we sit at versus a multiplication "table."

7. Understand language assessments
Language proficiency assessments in your district may vary. Find out when and how a student's English language proficiency is assessed and the results of those assessments. Using the results of formal and informal assessments can provide a wealth of information to aid in planning lessons that support language acquisition and content knowledge simultaneously. For me, student's just finished year three of the WIDA. It's taken in January but still don't get the information back util August. (ugh!)

8. Use authentic visuals and manipulatives
These can be over- or under-utilized. Implement the use of authentic resources for example; menus, bus schedules, post-cards, photographs and video clips can enhance student comprehension of complex content concepts.

9. Strategies that match language proficiency
Knowing the level of English language proficiency at which your students are functioning academically is vital in order to be able to scaffold appropriately. Not all strategies are appropriate for all levels of language learners. Knowing which scaffolds are most appropriate takes time but will support language learning more effectively.

10. Collaborate to celebrate
Seek support from other teachers who may teach student's. Other educators, novice and veteran, may have suggestions and resources that support English language development and content concepts. Creating and sustaining professional learning communities that support students are vital for student success.

I hope these suggestions help you build stronger Second Language Learners in your classrooms. To continue on this hop visit Lisa's Instagram.

Follow me at my Teachers pay Teachers store or on Instagram for more Freebies!

9 Strategies to Build Oral Language

Oral language is not just speaking. It is a large set of skills that encompasses listening comprehension, understanding and   producing complex language, vocabulary and word knowledge, grammatical knowledge, phonological skills, and so much more.

Why should I worry about it?

Unlike mathematics or science, reading is the only academic area in which we expect children to arrive as kindergartners with a basic skill level. Research has shown that oral language—the foundations of which are developed by age four—has a profound impact on children’s preparedness for kindergarten and on their success throughout their academic career. Children typically enter school with a wide range of background knowledge and oral language ability, attributable in part to factors such as children’s experiences in the home and their socioeconomic status.

Strong oral language makes for strong vocabulary and strong grammatical and semantic knowledge (how words go together and make meaning) then you are better able to understand what you read and produce written words. Let’s take another example. If you have ever studied a foreign language, you know that having limited vocabulary can significantly impair your ability to understand what you read.

How can we promote oral language in the classroom and at home to give students the building blocks for reading and writing? I’m glad you asked. Here are a few strategies that span the grades--Some can be modified to be easier or harder, depending on what you teach.

1) Show and Tell

A classic for elementary students! Students bring an item from home that they want to talk about and there is a precious question and answer session that ensues.

2) Daily Oral Language (D.O.L.) 

Traditionally, this is an activity where each day, there is a prompt written on the board for students, such as a sentence written with incorrect grammar for students to correct individually. I prefer to have the students create grammatically correct sentences in small groups (like their tables or with a partner). For example, you could give the words “Since” “Robert” and “party” and have the students come up with a grammatically correct sentence and discuss as a whole group. Another example is to pre-teach a vocabulary word that you will use that day or in the next lesson. Show the vocabulary word and have students talk about its meaning together in a small group and have them draw a group picture representing that word. Share out with the large group. You can have kids draw the vocabulary word on a post-it and then stick it on the board next to the word.

3) Dramatic Vocabulary It’s kind of like vocabulary charades. The students get in a circle and the teacher has a set of cards with that week’s vocabulary words on them (the students can make these cards in groups before the activity for added learning). The teacher pulls a card and gives it to one student, who must act out the vocabulary word for the other students to guess. After it is correctly guessed, the students say, spell, and write the definition of the word together on the board.

4) Word Wall 

 Also a classic! I think it is used mostly in elementary and middle school, but I can see its value in secondary classrooms with added elements, such as grouping by prefix, suffix, roots, etc. Basically, it is a wall of words that are frequently used in the classroom that are posted for easy reference. Teachers, feel free to comment on how you elaborate on the classic Word Wall. I like to add pictures-even better get students to do them.

5) Listening Activities

For the little ones, I like the classic game “telephone” where the kids get in a circle and the teacher whispers a sentence to the first kid, and they have to whisper the sentence to the next kid. The goal is to have the sentence be in tact at the end. It never is. Hilarity ensues. For older students, teaching listening skills can be in the form of teaching good note-taking skills during lecture. Give the class a list of key phrases that they want to listen for in a lecture such as, “This is important..”, “One of the main things…” “The first thing you have to do is…, etc”, “You will need to know…” To begin, you could ring a little bell or something when you use the key phrase, then transfer that job to a student. I love to do “Story Hour” and then talk about the picture book or link it to instruction.

The more we learn about the relationships between written and oral language, reading fluency has the potential to provide substantial benefit in skill areas related to comprehension, pragmatics, vocabulary, and overall academic success researched based, easy-to-implement strategies help build both oral reading and reading vocabulary tasks by supporting the development of smooth and accurate oral reading. Reading fluency can easily be targeted concurrently with other goals related to oral and written communication and can be linked to the core classroom curriculum without a great deal of extra effort. 

6) Repeated Oral Reading

As discussed in the accompanying article, repeated oral reading is a well-documented method of increasing reading fluency. Using text that is part of the child’s classroom curriculum for repeated oral reading is a relatively effortless way to connect clinical intervention to the classroom setting. Multiple readings of a passage prior to its introduction in the classroom can facilitate better overall comprehension of the topic; this understanding may facilitate more active participation in the classroom. Making prior arrangements with the classroom teacher to introduce a specific passage that your student will be responsible for reading aloud in class is an ideal way to enhance skill development and bolster confidence.

Another way to implement repeated oral reading is through the use of progressive stories. By their very nature, progressive stories have repeated readings of the same material built into the text. The story begins with a sentence or two (“This is the house that Jack built”) with new information added on each new page (“This is the door on the house that Jack built”). The story becomes more and more complex as it unfolds, but the child reads only a little bit more “new” material on each new page. Typically, progressive stories also provide many natural opportunities to practice phrasing and expression—which also contribute to reading fluency—as the story builds and the child becomes more and more familiar with the text structure.

7) Model Fluent Reading

The accompanying article suggests that children need many opportunities to hear fluent reading to facilitate their own reading fluency. Echo reading is an effective method of modeling and facilitating reading fluency, even for very young children. When using this strategy, the adult reads a short passage and then invites the child to “say what I say” or “copy me”. In this way, the adult models fluent reading and then provides the child with an opportunity for immediate practice. Because echo reading does not require children to actually decode the words, they are free to concentrate on how fluent reading feels and sounds. The earlier children have the opportunity to practice reading fluency, the more apt they are to be fluent once they begin to decode words independently. Older children can also benefit by participating in echo reading; choose books that are appropriate for their age/developmental level and interests.

8) Sentence Stress

Use of inappropriate prosody by stressing the wrong word in a sentence can substantially change the meaning of a reading passage. For example, the placement of vocal stress in the sentence “They are riding horses” determines whether “riding” is a verb or an adjective. Practicing sentence stress in conjunction with intervention for articulation, language, fluency, or voice may be accomplished through a variety of exercises, such as the one outlined below. The student reads (or models after you read) a sentence such as “I am walking to the store.”
The student then re-reads the sentence in response to the following questions:

“Where are you walking?”
(“I am walking to the store.”)
“Who is walking to the store?”
(“I am walking to the store.”)
“How are you getting to the store?”
(“I am walking to the store.”)

*Note that this strategy has a built-in component of repeated oral readings. The student has a chance to read the sentence numerous times. As the sentence becomes more familiar, the student is able to devote more attention to the meanings expressed rather than merely to decoding the words.

9) Poetry, Songs, and Chants

Poetry can help readers develop a broad range of fluency skills and provide concentrated practice with rhythm, cadence, expression, and prosody. You can use poetry written by others or help children write their own poetic masterpieces. Similarly, songs and chants—particularly those that call for physical participation—are an excellent way to develop the rhythm and cadence of fluent reading. Poetry, songs, and chants can also be read in groups (choral reading) or pairs (duet reading). Acting out books and stories can provide additional opportunities to translate written language to fluent oral delivery.

I have had some great reading growth with these ideas. I'd love to hear how they work with your students. With strong oral language skills comes building vocabulary skills that make reading easier. 

Oral Language Development

One of the most challenging things to do is build students’ oral language. It’s tough finding ways to build the skill into an already packed day. However, oral language skills impact student’s academic learning throughout their day, finding ways to add it without giving up something else is hard. As a special education teacher I spend a couple of minutes before starting group building these skills. I hope these suggestions help you find ways to build oral language into your day. At the start of each year, I use Total Physical Response with all my students as I build routines and expectations. This is something I pass on to parents because they too can use TPR to build oral language and its easy.

At the beginning of the school year, students need to know key phrases and expressions that they can use to communicate with teachers and students during the school day. Being able to communicate effectively with others is key for learning to take place. With some work, students can develop the type of everyday communication skills that facilitate learning. This strategy called Total Physical Response to help students in these early stages of language development.

Learning key phrases through Total Physical Response

Total Physical Response (TPR) activities greatly multiply the language input and output that can be handled by beginning English language learners (ELLs). TPR activities elicit whole-body responses when new words or phrases are introduced. Teachers can develop quick scripts that provide ELLs and other students with the vocabulary and/or classroom behaviors related to everyday situations. For example, "Take out your math book. Put it on your desk. Put it on your head. Put it under the chair. Hold it in your left hand."

You will see them  talk sooner when they are learning by doing. TPR activities help students adjust to school and understand the behaviors required and the instructions they will hear. This will help them in mainstream classrooms, in the halls, during lunchtime, during fire drills, on field trips, and in everyday life activities.

Strategies: How to use Total Physical Response

There are seven steps for the TPR instructional process:
1. Introduction
The teacher introduces a situation in which students follow a set of commands using actions. Usually props such as pictures or real objects accompany the actions. Some actions may be real while others are pretend.

2. Demonstration
The teacher demonstrates or asks a student to demonstrate this series of actions. The other students are expected to pay careful attention. At first, students are not expected to talk or repeat the commands. But soon they will want to join in because the commands are easy to follow and the language is clear and comprehensible. For example, the teacher gives a command such as "Take out a piece of bread" and the students say the sentence and do the action. "Now, spread peanut butter on it", and so on until a make-believe sandwich is made and eaten.

3. Group action
Next, the class acts out the series while the teacher gives the commands. Usually, this step is repeated several times so that students internalize the series thoroughly before they will be asked to produce it.

4. Written copy
Write the series on the chalkboard or chart paper so that students can make connections between oral and written words while they read and copy (or even substitute ingredients of their choice).

5. Oral repetitions and questions
After students have made a written copy, they repeat each line after the teacher, taking care with difficult words. They ask questions for clarification, and the teacher points out grammatical features such as "Yesterday we ate half a sandwich. Today we will eat a whole sandwich. Did you notice the difference between ate and eat? Yesterday we spread grape jelly, today we will spread orange jelly. Did you notice that the verb spread didn't change? Let's say the words soap and soup. Let's say the words cheap and sheep."

6. Student demonstration
Students can also take turns playing the roles of the reader of the series and the performer of the actions. Meanwhile, the teacher can check on individual students for comprehension and oral production.

7. Other activities

  • Use pictures from magazines, the Internet, pictures books. And have students talk about them. Let them take the lead. 
  • Before reading a children's story, select some action words and ask the students to perform these actions as you encounter them in the pages. List them on the chalkboard.
  • After reading the story, ask children to summarize the story by acting out the words you have demonstrated.
  • After reading the story, ask the children to select some words or phrases that they would like to turn into actions.
Building oral language skills is easy and something that can be done on the road while on vacation. Have a great week.

Oral Language Acquisition

Since moving to a small district there are fewer questions from teachers when they are working with students who are learning English as a second language. Though it is a beginning, have students in a group or a classroom talking is important--it builds social language skills first but it also helps build academic language. (Academic language takes students longer to wrap their heads around.) I find these ideas a step. One that is important for all students.

Oral Language Acquisition and Learning to Read and Write?

There is a very strong relationship between these, which really develops when students are proficient at identifying words, and helps them a great deal in reading and listening comprehension.
“Oral language is the foundation on which reading is built, and it continues to serve this role as children develop as readers.” It is very important for students to be exposed to and develop strong oral language skills before they even come to school, and these skills must continue to be expanded. Strong oral language skills also link to strong phonemic awareness skills, which research has shown to aid in learning to read and write. Since oral language acquisition is “the foundation on which reading is built,” special considerations must be made for ESL students, as they must expand their English oral language skills as they learn to read.

How powerful is this relationship?

Oral language is one of the main foundation needed in order to teach a child to read and write. ESL students come into the mainstream classroom lacking this fundamental foundation, at least in the English Language. If students are not able to understand directions or what the teacher is saying, and if they are not able to mirror “book Talk” in their reading and writing, the student will not be able to think in ways that will lead to elevated thinking and proficient.


To teach ESL students to read and write, the teacher much teach the students in their native language and compare it to English. Students need to have ways of practicing their English so that they can get better and understand it more efficiently. Some ways to practice are:
  • A low-anxiety environment: This includes a setting where students feel nurtured and supported by their teacher and peers, and in turn, they feel safe to take risks without the fear of being laughed at or made fun of.
  • Repeated practice: This is just like what it sounds! Students need repeated practice hearing and using a new language. They need multiple opportunities to comprehend and express their ideas in a new language. Like with anything new that we learn, practice helps us get better.
  • Comprehensible input: This means finding different ways to make what is being said comprehensible and easier to understand. Things to consider with comprehensible input might include using speech that is appropriate for students' language proficiency, providing a clear, step-by-step explanation of tasks, and using a variety of techniques to support their understanding.
  • Drama: This is a sense of excitement and engagement, can be found in activities like Reader's Theater, dramatic play, puppetry, narrating wordless picture books, etc. All of these activities also have the other three factors embedded within them. These activities assist in the development of oral language in addition to introducing students to oral reading and rich literacy experiences and responses in a classroom setting.

Connections to ESL Students

For ESL students, learning English is like learning to speak and read all over again; the main difference is that they are not starting language acquisition as a baby, but at an older age. Students that start English Language acquisition later find comprehension of English Oral Language hard to do. Because of the “language barrier” it is important to understand that it is not that these students cannot comprehend, but it’s that they need structure to know how to begin the language acquisition again. The process is similar to language acquisition of a first language.

Stages if Second Language Acquisition

The Student
The Teacher
Minimal comprehension.
Does not verbalize.
Nods "Yes" and "No."
Draws and points.

Show me …
Circle the …
Where is …?
Who has …?
Early Production
Limited comprehension
One/two-word responses.
Uses key words/familiar phrases.
Uses present-tense verbs.
Yes/no questions
Either/or questions
Who …?
What …?
How many …?
Speech Emergence
Has good comprehension.
Can produce simple sentences.
Grammar/pronunciation errors.
Misunderstands jokes
Why …?
How …?
Intermediate Fluency
Has excellent comprehension.
Makes few grammatical errors.
What would happen if …?
Why do you think …?
Questions requiring more than a sentence response
Advanced Fluency
The student has a near-native level of speech
Decide if …
Retell …

How to work with ELLs in a classroom and a Freebie

Like many schools, mine has a growing ELL population. In many ways they are more challenging then my LD students but here are a couple ideas that might help you while working with these students. I have found changing up my instruction and adding a couple of different ideas work for ALL students.

English language learners (ELLs) face academic challenges as they work to acquire conversational language skills, as well as the more formal academic language they need to learn content in English. When teaching ELL students, it is important to remember that just like native speakers, ELL students bring a wealth of background experiences into your classroom and have a range of learning style preferences and cultural backgrounds, all of which should be considered when planning their reading instruction.

Who Are ELL Students?

Are trying to acquire English language proficiency, while in English-speaking classrooms. My goal is to help them master the English language, while enabling them to maintain their native language and culture. Students are trying to gain knowledge and experiences in the four domains of language learning:  listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

  • Will learn to use English in social interactions, both formally and informally. In this context, students need abundant opportunities to interact with proficient English speakers in a range of settings. By facilitating these interactions around meaningful topics, you will help students gain exposure to a wide vocabulary and a range of topics they might not come across naturally.
  • Need to learn, and practice using, content-specific language so they can successfully learn, communicate, and extend academic content-area learning. 
  • Benefit from lessons rich with visual aids and non=linguistic cues. Picture books (especially nonfiction picture books) 
  • Benefit from model readings and hearing the English language read with fluency. Modeling is a great way for students to hear the English language read fluently while they follow along, viewing both the text and art.
  • Model fluent reading. While listening to a story being read aloud, readers can track each word as it is highlighted. In this way, students make sound-symbol correlations between the words and audio pronunciations.
  • Utilize graphic organizers. After listening to a book, students can draw pictures illustrating the beginning, middle, and end of the book on a graphic organizer. 
  • Students can further build their vocabulary using the infer-and-define strategy in which students infer the meaning of an unknown word and then clarify it by using a student made dictionary.  Students can add their newly acquired words into their personal dictionaries.  
  • Use guided reading.  As you work with your ELL students to teach and model reading strategies.
  • Use conferencing, explicit modeling, and think-alouds to guide ELL students in thinking critically about the texts they read. 
  • Use inferential questions in the notes section of your students' text to encourage critical thinking about the text. Seeing these preview questions before they read will provide students with a reading focus and will require them to analyze the text and synthesize information as they read.   
  • Encourage evaluation. Students are working toward synthesizing and evaluating information and responding to reading through writing.  Use this time to guide students in evaluating their own opinions based on the text.  

I hope these ideas help you out in the classroom or in small group. Do't forget to get your sentence writing visual freebie. Have a great week.

Reading Comprehension Strategies and ELL Students--Freebie

This year, it seems like I have more second language learners in my small reading groups than in the past. Last year, I spend I lot of time using the Comprehension Toolkit for these small groups and had great success in using it. That success was not so great with the ELLs that may of been part of those groups. Reflecting on why, these students didn't grow as much as the others in the group, lead to me to look more closely at the language needed to use the skill.

Working with our building ELL Resource teacher, she suggested using sentence stems that target where students language and support them to learn how to use each strategy. You will find two sets of posters: one of the comprehension strategies and another matching set but with sentence stems to help students learn the language around the strategies.

Reading Comprehension Strategy Posters for Blog

ESL Prompts Reading Comprehension Strategy Posters

About Me

Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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