Are you always trying new strategies to keep students excited about learning? Ultimately, the hope is that if students remain engaged, they will learn the material deeper. Since students’ needs change throughout the year, teachers often change their teaching techniques. I get why we do this! However, it is essential to reflect on what we are doing and if it is best for students. While we always have the best intentions, we are still humans. We make mistakes! That is exactly why I am here to share 7 things to stop doing with your ELL students!
#1: Stop Dumbing Down and Watering Down Content
Now, you may be rolling your eyes as you read this. But, let me explain. I understand why people think that ELL students need simpler content. BUT, this does not mean they need dumbed-down materials. This will only make them bored. They will also think their teacher does not believe in them. Instead, bring them up to your level through scaffolding and differentiation strategies. They deserve modifications and accommodations that allow them to close the gap and still interact with classmates.
#2: Stop Thinking Your Students Are Low
Imagine being given a book written in a language you barely understand. It’s not even like you can sound out unknown words because you don’t even understand the language. You would feel confused and frustrated. This is exactly how ELL students feel when they receive books and worksheets they can’t read. So, teachers often give them a very basic assignment instead. However, ELL students are NOT low! They just don’t understand the language. They need time to transfer information from one language to the other. Once they do, they will be able to show how smart they are.
#3: Stop Forcing Them to Speak If They Aren’t Ready
ELL students are experiencing an entirely new world. They need time to take everything in and adjust to new surroundings. So, don’t force them to speak. You want to encourage them by giving them the opportunity, but you do not want to mandate talking. Instead, model how to have a conversation. When they are ready, they will open up. If you stay positive, they will gain the confidence to talk.
#4: Stop Correcting Language
If you took a foreign language class in school, do you remember being confused about how the language works? For instance, some languages put the adjective after the noun instead of before. Similarly, an o or an a in select words determines male or female. Just like we were confused, our ELL students are confused! They will make mistakes as they learn a new language. If they are constantly corrected, they will become scared to talk. Instead, model good language. With time and practice, ELL students will see their mistakes and make the needed adjustments.
#5: Stop Denying Their Culture and Language
I cannot stress this enough! Our ELL students follow different cultural traditions than we may know about. They will also go home and speak a language we do not understand. We cannot deny these aspects. This means we cannot turn them off the second school begins. Instead, we need to allow students to bring their culture and language into the classroom. Embrace their backgrounds and differences. Students will feel happy to be who they are while adjusting to a new environment.
#6: Stop Assuming A Student Knows Something Just Because They Don’t Ask Questions
Yes, it would be great for students always to let the teacher know when they are confused. We would love for them to ask questions whenever they come up. However, this is not realistic. Students may not know how to ask questions. Or, they may be content to just sit there during the lesson. They may say they understand, but in reality, they don’t. Honestly, this is the case for all of our students. Not just our ELL students. So, we must stop assuming they understand the text, worksheets, and activities. We must clarify our understanding of even the most minor instruction components. Students will be thankful they have such a patient and caring teacher that learned the 7 things to stop doing with your ELL students.
#7: Stop Letting Students Just Sit There
Teachers love a classroom of focused students. However, focus does not always mean quiet! We cannot just let our ELL students sit there. They need to be involved just like everyone else. This means we hold them to the same expectations as all the students in the classroom. So, this means we model what to do. We provide help and guidance. We ensure students understand what to do and support them in learning.
ELL students are adjusting to so much at once. On top of changes at home, their schooling is entirely different. While they need support and guidance, they do not need basic worksheets. They do not need to be treated differently just because they have different backgrounds. Thankfully, these 7 things to stop doing with your ELL students will ensure they receive appropriate lessons!
For more helpful tips on teaching students, check out Gifted Reading. It provides great ideas to include in lessons.
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