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Tips For Teaching Students Who Are English Language Learners

Academic Tips

  • Provide opportunities for authentic English communication, such as encouraging conversations, role-playing, questioning, and other opportunities to send and receive oral messages.

  • Use an expressive voice, gestures, pantomime, objects, and pictures whenever possible in presenting lessons.

  • Link instruction to students’ cultures.

  • Write key words and notes on the board.

  • Use flashcards and pictures to build vocabulary.

  • Use appropriate computer software to aid in instruction.

  • Use listening devices such as tape recorders and language masters to build vocabulary and listening comprehension.

  • Develop reading skills by reading to students and by matching materials to meet both language needs and student interests.

  • Support vocabulary development by using books that have built-in predictability.

  • Use books that have illustrations that support and extend meaning as a springboard for discussions and writing assignments.


  • Speak to the student.

  • Ask the student what will help him/her.

  • Get to know the student. Be a friend.

  • Involve the student in day-to-day activities.

  • Remember that language acquisition is a process.  Even if the student speaks English, that doesn’t mean he/she reads and/or writes English.

  • Speak slowly and use simple terms.

  • Remember that speaking and listening in English are the first steps. Encourage the student to talk in small groups.

  • Use different ways to get across a point. Trust your instincts. Many of the strategies that you already use can be adapted for your ESOL student.

  • Look at teaching an ESOL student as an opportunity to celebrate cultural diversity and to build awareness and tolerance.

  • When you need help ask your ESOL teacher, counselor, or call the ESOL and Other Language Services (OLS) personnel (678-817-3070/3095) or go the the Clayton County ESOL or OLS website.


  • Don't ignore the student.

  • Don’t expect an oral response immediately.

  • Don’t allow prejudiced behaviors to occur in class.

  • Don’t overuse detailed worksheets, which for the ESOL students, may be meaningless.

  • Don’t assess comprehension or performance in the same way as you assess other students.

  • Don’t be intimidated or frightened. You will be able to teach these students.

Click here for a printable copy


Tips for Teaching Students Who are English Language Learners

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Short List of Tips

30 More Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners

Teacher Talk for Secondary Level Teachers

Accommodations for ESOL Students in Regular Education Classrooms

Parental Involvement