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March 27. 2018

Teacher Tip: Support English Language Learners Through Multiple Modes of Communication

To support English language learners, you will not want to depend solely on oral language, especially with children who have newly arrived from another country and have very limited understanding of English. Think what it is like to listen to a string of directions and remember them; then think what it would be like to listen to it in a language that you are only beginning to learn. Use other means of communication:

  • Act it out.
  • Demonstrate explicitly what you want students to do.
  • If it's complicated, have them "walk through it," acting out what they will do (or have a few students demonstrate while others watch).
  • Seek the support of another student who also speaks the student's primary language (if possible).
  • Use pictures and symbols.
  • Provide it in simple writing accompanied by illustrations if necessary.
  • If at all possible, learn some key words in the child's language.

From When Readers Struggle: Teaching That Works by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (C) 2009 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.