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K-12 Technology

Apr 16, 2018 2018-04-16

Digital Learning • Learning Support

SPOTLIGHT! On Supporting English Learners in the Mainstream Classroom

You have a new student, and he speaks no English. His family has just moved to your town from Japan, and although he receives English as a second language (ESL) support, he is also in your classroom every day so he will have more exposure to his new language. How can you be an effective teacher to this student?

Three educators of English learners offer 12 strategies that regular classroom teachers can use to improve instruction for their EL students. The strategies are simple to implement; they take little time to carry out; and best of all, they will help all students to learn.

Try these resources as you implement some of the suggested strategies.

Make It Visual

Visuwords is an online dictionary/thesaurus that represents language visually. Students enter words into the “visualize a word” search box. A network of nodes, or “synsets,” will spring out from the word that students entered. Each of the synsets has its own definition. Touching a node will reveal all of the synonyms for a given synset, as well as its definition. Some synsets will also show a few examples of usage. These synsets link to each other and to other synsets according to entries in WordNet, Princeton University’s open-source database built by the university’s students and language researchers. Visuwords is available for free to anyone on the web.


Learn About Students’ Cultural Backgrounds

Tell About This gives English learners a safe space to tell stories about their lives and experiences and validate their unique contributions to the class community. To tell their stories, young ELs can easily use this versatile prewriting or publishing app for iOS. Dozens of photos sorted into categories—including culture, people, family, and fun—serve as inspiration for prompts. Children can tell their stories using the in-app recording feature. Teachers can also create custom prompts with their own images and voice. Cost: $2.99


Look Out for Culturally Unique Vocabulary

As they view this animated music video from Flocabulary, students will learn some common American English phrases that aren’t what they seem. With this rap, it’ll be a “piece of cake” for English learners to understand popular phrases such as “raining cats and dogs” and “leave no stone unturned.”

Cost: Free trial

ELL/ESL Academic Achievement Educational Technology Technology Cultural Awareness

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