Tips for Teaching English Language Learners

English Language Learners deal with some of the greatest challenges.  Can you imagine how completely overwhelming it must be to walk into a room full of active children, full of noise, talking, and words everywhere - in a language that you don’t understand? As if acclimating to the environment is not enough, students that speak English as a second language are also expected to learn the same standards as their grade level peers.

If you teach English Language Learners in your classroom, check out these tips for how to teach the standards to students of other languages. Download the free graphic organizer while you read!


Over the years, I have found that graphic organizers are one of the very best ways to aid ELLs in learning the standards.

**Be sure to Download my FREE Graphic Organizer Below!



Why Graphic Organizers?


Graphic organizers help ELL students narrow down information into chunks that can be more easily understood and less overwhelming. Organizing information through this vehicle is possible in all subject areas!

Developing Vocabulary Visually

If you teach English Language Learners in your classroom, check out these tips for how to teach the standards to students of other languages. Download the free graphic organizer while you read!

A graphic organizer is a visual representation used to organize information.  Using a word chart is a helpful way for English language learners to develop the meaning of new vocabulary. I loved using word charts so students could spend time in small groups discussing new words, meaning, examples, and non-examples. When I was in the classroom, I was fortunate to have a very diverse group of learners that enabled me to pair new English speakers with bilingual students to complete word charts together. This worked well in all subjects and was a perfect accommodation in science and social studies. Expanding vocabulary should be a primary goal with ELL students.


Graphic Organizers for Reading


Although most of my English language learners were reading below grade level, I liked to expose them to short grade-level texts when appropriate. My Fiction and Nonfiction Graphic Organizers are perfect for this!

If you teach English Language Learners in your classroom, check out these tips for how to teach the standards to students of other languages. Download the free graphic organizer while you read!


I first like to start by using the graphic organizer in small groups. It’s helpful to show them directly how to complete the organizer, allow them to follow along, and then finish independently. When we broke out into small groups or the next day, students worked together on a different passage using the same graphic organizer. They are then encouraged to organize their own reading in the same fashion. It helped my kids feel so confident!


Download a FREE Graphic Organizer Below!



If you teach English Language Learners in your classroom, check out these tips for how to teach the standards to students of other languages. Download the free graphic organizer while you read!



Graphic Organizers for Writing


Graphic organizers are helpful in both fiction and nonfiction writing. When working on narrative writing, I used to like my students to begin brainstorming their ideas through a mind map or a simple beginning, middle, end organizer. It was helpful to have my kids draw pictures of their characters and setting to get an idea of what direction they wanted to go with their story. This way they were able to get a hold of their ideas, and I was able to help them put English words to their pictures to get them started. Writing is the last step in language acquisition, so ELL students need all the scaffolding they can get.

When writing nonfiction (a 5 paragraph informational essay, for example) I loved the boxes and bullets methods. This method allows students to focus on topic sentences for each paragraph and narrow down the details from there. This is a useful tool when gathering research as well. (We love PebbleGo videos!) Informational writing is also a great time for practicing all that academic vocabulary they are learning!

Another helpful graphic organizer I used with my ELL students was a "Paragraph Writing" Organizer. This was used throughout the year to help them write paragraphs that included each component.

If you teach English Language Learners in your classroom, check out these tips for how to teach the standards to students of other languages. Download the free graphic organizer while you read!



It’s all worth it!


Working with English language learners is definitely a challenge. The differentiation that is necessary at all times will keep you on your toes! Watching your kids progress at alarmingly fast rates is so rewarding, and makes all that hard work worth it!


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