ESOL - English to Speakers of Other
Accommodations for ESOL Students In Regular
This information is to guide instruction of ESOL
students in mainstream classrooms. In actuality most classroom teachers
are already familiar with these suggestions but perhaps unaware that
good teaching practices work equally well with all students. In some
ways it is a matter of focus rather than new information. All of us are
lifelong language learners. No one can claim to understand every word or
nuance present in his/her native language. Therefore, all teachers are
language instructors. We have all seen this highlighted by the overt
inclusion of the four language skills, listening, speaking, reading and
writing in all the content areas.
You might also note the term "accommodations" rather
than "modifications". Modifications tend to be permanent changes to
assist a permanent impairment in the learning strategies of some pupils.
ESOL is a temporary program of which all students will be exited once
they reach a level of English-language proficiency necessary to function
at their grade level in an English-speaking instructional setting. Most
teachers probably will discover that these activities work so well with
all their students that they will permanently incorporate them in their
One must also note a concurrent theme amongst these
recommendations; the key is to go directly from object or concept to
English (Immediate Meaning Identification). This approach compels the
students to "think" in English. The alternative, object or concept to
first language to English (Mediated Meaning Identification) will waste
valuable learning/listening time in translating.
Remember the 5 R's:
REPEAT, REPHRASE, REITERATE, RESTATE, REWORD!!!!!!!
Choose a proficient American student (of the same
gender) to serve as the ESOL student's partner. First, this will be a
wonderful learning experience for the American to "teach" the ESOL
student. Second, the ESOL student will have an excellent role model in
English and one who is familiar with the content of the class.
Label items in the classroom in English only. The
student's already know their own language and would ignore the English
if you displayed their first language in addition to English.
Provide cloze technique (some words missing) passages
for the Limited-English-Proficient (LEP) student to complete from the
regular text or lecture notes.
Find lower grade level or alternative materials that
cover similar content but with more illustrations and less language.
Have the ESOL student view videos or filmstrips or
listen to cassettes of the content.
Have the ESOL student take a test or quiz "open book" or
offer the examination orally.
Provide a "Geo-Safari" workstation (or equivalent) with
appropriate content area vocabulary.
Use graphic organizers. These are essential for the
visual learner and assist the language learner in seeing the
relationships between concepts and their vocabulary labels.
Use a "Language Master" or equivalent machine for new
Use read-along cassettes and books, either purchased or
Set up a listening station where the student can read
aloud and record himself/herself.
Investigate educational software for your content area
for computer use.
Utilize the guidance of brain-based learning or also
referred to as multiple intelligences. Hands on activities, jazz chants,
choral reading, nursery rhymes, drawing, these are all staples of a rich
language learning environment.
Use hand signals to accompany verbal instructions and
augment any materials with pantomime and gestures.
Establish a learning contract between the student,
his/her parents, the ESOL teacher and all classroom teachers. This could
include a checklist of skills or specific content area items. Teachers
would meet and create this document that would include objectives,
strategies and evaluation. By comparing the student's progress, all
parties involved would be appraised in the net gains and expectations of
Remember schematic sets for acquisition of new
vocabulary. Avoid introducing new words out of context.
Use power writing.
Use fewer pronouns. Repetition of key concepts is
essential. With low-level learners the use of imperative or command form
of verbs is easier to understand. Avoid use of conditionals, these may
Keep strong communication ties with the parents or
guardians. Use translators if necessary. By federal law, a parent is
entitled to have access to the education system of their child and it is
the school's responsibility to find a way to help parents have access.
Seek the child's parents at any parental involvement activity. This will
also alert school staff to any younger siblings that may arrive in your
school in the future. Try to combine parental activities such as PTA and
the Migrant Education Program's Parent Advisory Councils.
Avoid any assumptions about routine American "common"
knowledge. For example, these children may not have experienced Mother
Goose or the Beatles' music.
Avoid filler phrases that confuse an ESOL student. Make words count and
Do use students' knowledge about their homeland in
classes such as Social Studies, but be cautious. School is a stage of
life where the key is to "fit in". Consistent reference to a child's
first language or their culture can cause the student to feel different,
isolated and no longer "part of the crowd".
Have ESOL students create their own picture dictionaries
utilizing photos from magazines, catalogs or teacher created materials.
Make directions comprehensible. Determine your top ten
directions and illustrate or demonstrate them.
Model rather than overtly correct a student's errors.
Address only those pronunciation errors that can affect communication.
With limited-English-proficient students who are just
beginning to learn English, do not confuse the normal "silent period" of
language acquisition with a lack of absorption. Actually, this crucial
period is experienced by all second language learners.
Be aware of the state's requirements and your school's
procedures to determine eligibility for ESOL services. Avoid the
assumption about a student's academic language proficiency because you
see evidence of social language adeptness.
Strongly and consistently utilize pre-reading
strategies; i.e., intent of the reading selection, activating
background knowledge, looking at the title, picture or charts to predict
meaning and reviewing the main rhetorical styles of English
(comparison/contrast, descriptive, etc.) and review key vocabulary.
The following are excerpted from the Colorado
Department of Education Handbook on Planning for LEP Student Success:
Make a point of correctly learning and pronouncing the student's name.
Practice students' first and last names until you master them. Remember
that you only have a couple of new words to learn while LEP students
have thousands. Ask students the names that they prefer. A person's name
has great personal and emotional impact, so don't shorten or change
names just to make it easier to pronounce.
Invite a LEP student to be Class Messenger. This
position of importance will give the student confidence, a sense of
belonging and an identity with your class.
Announce the objectives and activities for each lesson.
This gives students a context for their work.
Develop and maintain routines to help LEP students
anticipate what will happen without relying solely on language clues.
List and review instructions step by step.
Speak more slowly.
Provide frequent summaries of the salient points of the
Write legibly as some students have low literacy levels
or are unaccustomed to the Roman alphabet. Remember cursive is difficult
for LEP students to read.
Use Process Writing - A writing approach that emphasizes
content over mechanics. It encourages students to begin with pre-writing
activities that include the review of key concepts in group activities;
thus, language is learned in a safe environment.
Have students keep journals in English explaining what
they've learned and what questions they have (peer tutors can help).
Give story summaries.
Use a Language Experience Approach - after a common
experience such as a field trip or lab experiment, students dictate to
the teacher what happened, work together to organize the written ideas
and make corrections as necessary.
Plan for group work (cooperative learning) - Group LEP
students with native English speakers to accomplish a group goal.
Have a time for Show and Tell - students are motivated
to describe objects or events of interest.
Using dictated or other stories of interest, have
students create gestures to represent characters and actions to provide
their peers with nonverbal cues for understanding.
Adapted from ESOL Resource Guide, Department of
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