EL Resources WikiEdit

Welcome to the EL Resources Wiki. Here you can find information and resources to use in an elementary EL classroom from various content areas.

Reading Edit

Below you can find information that can be used to improve reading comprehension, reading instructional strategies, and grouping techniques or cooperative learning strategies for elementary EL students. In this section, you will also find reading technology tools and resources to use to enhance the learning experience for EL students.

Reading Comprehension Skills Edit

Reading and comprehension skills are important for all students, yet for some students especially EL students reading and comprehension may be difficult.  Improved comprehension skills will allow EL students at various English proficiency to

  • Read more accurately
  • Follow a text or story more closely
  • Identify important events and concepts in a text
  • Master new concepts in their content-area classes
  • Complete assignments and assessments
  • Feel motivated to read in school and for pleasure

The following strategies will build EL comprehension skills: building background knowledge, teaching vocabulary explicitly, and checking comprehension.

1) Build background knowledge

  • Limited knowledge can interfere with topics
  • Prior to new lesson, explain any vocabulary or topic
  • “Tour of the text”-explain textbook
    • Table of contents
    • Glossary
    • Organization of text
    • Bold print
    • Chapter heading
    • Chapter summaries
  • “Picture-walk” used with non-fiction or fiction
    • Point out pictures
    • Illustrations
    • Graphic elements
    • Ask questions
      1. What do they notice?
      2. How does these details may relate to story or content?
    • Use outlines to scaffold comprehension-reading assignment or oral discussion in advance of a new lesson will help student pick out important information.

2) Teach vocabulary explicitly:

  • Focus on key vocabulary
  • Student-friendly definitions for key vocabulary
  • “Picture-walk” for vocabulary-connect new words to picture in text
  • Actively engage with vocabulary
    • Underline
    • Highlight
    • Make notes
    • List unknown vocabulary words
  • Practice with new words
    • Define a word
    • Recognize when to use that word
    • Understand multiple meanings
    • Decode and spell the word
  • Incorporate new words into discussions and activities

3) Check comprehension frequently

  • Use formal comprehension checks to test students’ ability to sequence material, for example, print sentences from a section, mix the strips, chronological order
  • Test comprehension with student-friendly questions:
    • Literal level
    • Interpretive level
    • Applied level
  • Use graphic organizers-organize information and ideas without using word
    • Venn diagram
    • K-W-L charts
    • Story maps
    • Cause-and-effect charts
    • Timeline
  • “Show what they know”
    • Drawing
    • Graphs
    • Oral interviews
    • Posters
    • Portfolios
  • Summarize
    • Retell what you read
    • Include only important information
    • Use key words from text

(Breiseth, 2010).

Reading Instructional Strategies Edit

Read-Aloud Plus

  • Allows modeling of fluent, expressive reading, while utilizing techniques to help with vocabulary, periodic comprehension check in and activating knowledge to make personal connections with the material.
  • Takes our traditional read aloud technique and adds an extension activity, normally in the form of visual support, occasional paraphrasing, and/or rewriting.

Read Aloud Plus Extension Activities:

Steps for ReadAloud Plus:

  1. Preread and choose support material
  2. Explain the process to students
  3. Read and Clarify
  4. Engage the students actively
  5. Review key concepts
  6. Assess and monitor growth
  7. Add technology

Moving into Reading

  • Uses multiple strategies to increase comprehensions. The first strategy is interactive read aloud.
  • Strong tool for ELL learners because of its demonstration of a strong language model.
  • Students often view their teachers as role models, so seeing what “god readers do” would be the perfect opportunity to instill those concepts.
  • The next strategy is shared reading.
  • Students and teacher will read the text together, easing the difficulty level is text proves to be too difficult.
  • This allows an opportunity for understanding because even if the students do not understand the text they will hear the word or words as their eyes follow across the text.
  • Both strategies are very similar and often used hand in hand.

Steps for Move into Reading:

  1. Introduce the text
  2. Track the print (read the book)
  3. Stop for discussion/predictions
  4. Encourage verbal interactions
  5. Reread for additional practice and exposure
  6. Practice with small versions of the text

Cloze: Using Context to Create Meaning

  • Based on written texts.
  • Text will be provided where some blanks are left out and the student will have to fill them in. It also helps enhance English vocabulary and decoding skills.
  • Teacher designed

activities are especially important and beneficial because they can be manipulated to better fit the needs of students as well as their specific levels. Steps for Cloze:

  1. Observe student reading behaviors
  2. Group students for instruction
  3. Introduce cloze with a chart sentence
  4. Prepare a cloze activity to meet students’ needs
  5. Identify appropriate words to fill in the blanks
  6. Assess student growth and understanding
  7. Add technology

Guided Reading

  • Is taught in small group setting with individual coaching. The number of students will range from 4-6 and they should all be at the approximate level.
  • Guided Reading is particularly beneficial because it provides an opportunity to tackle more challenging text with help from their teacher.
  • The lesson would begin with a book walk. During this time the teacher can move to students one by one and provide assistance but take a mental note of their strengths and weaknesses to gauge mini lessons off of later.
  • There is a focus on vocabulary development, opportunities for verbal interactions and individual instruction.

Steps for Guided Reading:

  1. Group the students for instruction
  2. Begin the process
  3. Read aloud but not in unison
  4. Pair students for additional practice
  5. Teach minilessons based on students’ needs
  6. Assess on a regular basis


  • This is being able to find key words in sentences.
  • This is really the core of being able to understand main ideas in bigger passages.
  • Students will first have to be able to identify the key word then paraphrase the meaning of the sentence.

Steps for Microselection:

  1. Introduce the concept microselection
  2. Model the identification of key words
  3. Guide students in practicing microselection
  4. Pair students for additional practice
  5. Discuss the procedure
  6. Assess to identify the need for additional instruction or guided practice

Collaborative Reading

  • Has a method for all learners and students to participate in group activities.
  • Generally will utilize 4-5 different sources depending on the number in each group.
  • Each member can contribute, because there are books to accommodate all levels.
  • Contribution can be provided by drawing a visual or by oral communication.

Steps for Collaborative Reading:

  1. Gather a range of books on a topic
  2. Organize heterogenous groups
  3. Provide research instruction
  4. Create a data chart
  5. Practice and share information
  6. Document the group process

(Herrell & Jordan, 2016).

Reading Technology Tools and Resources Edit

Technology tools such as infographics, digital word walls, and digital storytelling are all effective for deepening understanding of language and content through multiple and varied interactions, building background, and promoting collaboration and communication.

  • Infographics, which are visuals with text, can be created and used by both the teacher and students. The visual elements help ELs to process information more easily and to better understand the content. Infographics also offer an effective format to communicate information in numerous ways. Examples are Smore,, and Piktochart. 
  • Digital word walls help with vocabulary acquisition and provide native language and visual support for ELs. Using sites such as PBWorks or Popplet, students can collaborate, connect, and share keywords and online references on a digital word wall. Students can also create graphic organizers that map root words and associated meanings, images, sentence examples, and more. The study of Greek and Latin roots is particularly useful for ELs, as a single root can often be applied to determine the meaning of multiple words.
  • Digital storytelling enhances assists with learning English through the integration of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Digital tools such as VoiceThread, Puppet Pals, and Book Creator allow students to create and share material using text, visual, and audio formats. Students can record themselves, listen to it, and rerecorded it multiple times to enhance his pronunciation.

Using technology effectively can help educators meet ELs’ individual proficiency levels, enhance language development and content area learning, and provide performance-based assessments. There are so many technology tools that can be used to reinforce concepts, address gaps, and to help keep ELs engaged and many can be adapted based on their proficiency level. 

  • Story Time For Me is a free library of stories featuring animation, narration by professional actors, and word-by-word highlighting. They may be best suited to children in the primary grades.
  • Starfall has free resources suitable for individualized development of pre-reading skills, teaching reading, and refining reading skills. There is a diverse library of reading materials, accompanied by illustrations and audio, including fiction, nonfiction, comics, plays, Greek myths, Chinese fables, and other folk tales.
  • Many Things is geared toward middle level ELLs at the intermediate and advanced levels. It features short reports on current events, news items, and social issues. Students listen and read along.
  • Scholastic online offers some online games that teach beginning ESL students in the lower proficiency levels phonemic awareness, phonics, and vocabulary.

(Kelly, 2017).

Grouping Techniques and Cooperative Learning Strategies Edit

There are several different ways to group ELs and their classmates. The four that are mentioned are great when you have a mixture of students and want to break them into different types of groups for different assignments.

Group Students by Differing Skill Level Edit

  • We all subconsciously change how we speak based on who

we are speaking to, therefore, everyone would be helped.

  • The more advanced students will be able to learn the

content a little better as we learn while we teach.

  • The students who are not as advanced will

subconsciously improve their English just by hearing others speak and by talking themselves.

Group Students of the Same Skill Level Edit

  • This contradicts the first grouping, but by doing

this, we push each member of the group to be better.

  • The advanced students have to work on their discussion

skills such as active listening and turn taking.

  • The less advanced students will push each other to speak

and step up to get the work done.

Group the Students by the Same First Language Edit

  • Many teachers dislike doing this as the student might

talk in their primary language instead of English but think of all the good itcan do.

  • The more advanced students can help the beginning

students with tips and tricks to help them.

  • Having students with the same ethnic background together

can be beneficial as well when it comes to sensitive topics.

  • The more advanced students can help the less advanced

students with instructions when the teacher has run out of ideas on how to properly communicate or when there simply is no translation.

Group the Students by Different First Languages Edit

  • This is the other half to the previous bullet and has

several other good points.

  • By grouping those with differing primary languages

together, it forces everyone to speak English to some degree to communicate.

  • Hearing other languages and accents helps the students

Appreciate other language more and makes them listen harder and more carefully.

(Verner, 2018).

Writing Edit

Below you can find information that can be used to improve writing skills, writing instructional strategies, and strategies for providing comprehensible input, feedback, building background knowledge, and student engagement for elementary EL students. In this section, you will also find writing technology tools and resources to use to enhance the learning experience for EL students.

Writing Skills Edit

Often when teaching ELL students, writing skills are overlooked. By incorporating them more regularly it will provide your ELL student with a stronger English skill set. There are 7 writing skills that FluentU highly recommended for our ELL students to have. They are the following:

  1. Build on what they already know
  2. Being able to form sentences
  3. Building coherent paragraphs
  4. Communicating and Collaborating in writing
  5. Choosing Writing Topics
  6. Understanding Writing Structures
  7. An Understanding of Formal VS. Informal Writing

Above we mentioned it was important to have these foundation skills for a stronger skill set, but they are also beneficial in case our students feels like they need to stop verbally communicating (for whatever reason). Students at this point will still have the chance to communicate their thoughts, wants and needs.

(Seifert, N.D.)

Writing Instructional Strategies Edit

Script Writing and Reader's Theater

  • Students write their own scripts for reader's theater and read the scripts aloud in small groups. When students write their own scripts and then read them aloud, they are given the opportunity to strengthen literacy skills in both writing and reading. Multileveled scripts can be used to accommodate EL students at different levels of language proficiency (Herrell & Jordan, 2016).

Steps for Script Writing and Reader's Theater

  • Select a book appropriate for the age and language proficiency level of students.
  • Use the read-aloud plus strategy to read the book.
  • Model how to write the script.
  • Model how to begin using a narrator to set the stage and allow students to use their creativity to write the script. Reread the script as new dialogue is added.
  • Use a word processor to create the script and add to it each day.
  • Create enough copies of the script for each character to have their own and highlight that character's part.
  • Practice reading the script aloud.
  • Perform the script.

(Herrell & Jordan, 2016)

Cohesion Links

  • Cohesion links refer to words that connect sentences to form a cohesive whole. These links can be pronouns, sequence words, or words that negate or minimize a previous thought. In order for students to fully understand text structure, they must understand these cohesion links that connect sentences (Herrell & Jordan, 2016).

Steps for Cohesion Links

  • Use a sample paragraph that contains pronouns, conjunctions, substitutions, or ellipses. Incorporate more complex paragraphs as comprehensions increases.
  • Read the entire paragraph one sentences at a time and discuss each cohesion link as they appear, making connections to what each link refers to.
  • Encourage students to practice with a partner.
  • Review the connections students made as a whole group.
  • Include review of these cohesion links on a regular basis.
  • Assess on a regular basis.

(Herrell & Jordan, 2016).

Writing Journals

  • Use modeled writing to demonstrate to students how English sounds are represented by symbols. Slowly read aloud the words that are being written to students and point to the words as they are read. Once students are comfortable with writing, they can begin creating their own pieces of writing in their writing journals and increase the difficulty as their writing skills improve (Herrell & Jordan, 2016).

Steps for Writing Journals

  • Provides students with writing journals.
  • Demonstrate what is expected from students.
  • Have students draw a picture and write about what they drew.
  • Model a written response to each student's picture. Read this response aloud and write it on a sticky note for students to keep in their writing journals.
  • Repeat this process daily.

(Herrell & Jordan, 2016).

Writing Technology Tools and Resources Edit

Pre-Emergent, Emergent & Basic Students

  • Draw and Tell HD app
    • With this app, kids' drawings to come alive and then students can use visual and verbal storytelling, and can write their story. Can be used for all content areas, for example, students can draw a picture of something they learned in science or social studies, then write about it.
  • Superhero Comic Books Maker app
    • This app allows students to create their own comic book-style stories. It's a great way to engage students and it provides a scaffolding that helps ELs be successful. It is great for all content areas and the comic book-style helps to organize their thoughts.
  • Edublog and Blogger
    • Class blogs are also a great way for EL students to practice writing skills. Teachers can ask students to write about specific topics or ELs can write about their own personal interests. The more they practice their writing skills, the more proficient they will become.

Low & High Intermediate Students

  • ESL Galaxy is great to use for intermediate students. It has worksheets with different levels of work.
    • Fill in the blank with a word bank, prepositions, adverbs, adjectives and family writing assignments.
      • These are all ways to improve their writing and description
  • Scrabble and Boggle are great games and applications on tablets to help with writing skills such as spelling and word meaning.
    • Help give correct meaning behind words such as "their, they're, and there" or "to, two, and too".
  • Pen pals are a great idea to write to another student from a different state or country. "ePals" is a great website that matches children up online instead of pen and paper "snail mail."
    • This would help the students practice and check for mistakes before sending just like revising on a paper.
  • is another website that will help with both reading and writing.
    • It has written conversations and scripts to view which will help reading fluency and show students proper grammar for writing.

Strategies for Providing Comprehensible Input, Feedback, Building Background Knowledge, & Student Engagement Edit

  • Building Background
    • Link concepts to students' background experiences
      • Discuss students' previous personal and academic experiences to help bridge meaning
    • Bridges past learning to new concepts
      • Integrate new information with what the learner already knows
    • Emphasize key vocabulary
      • The most effective way to teach vocabulary is when it is presented in the context of new concepts, not in isolation
      • Students should be actively involved in their own vocabulary development and make it personal
      • Students should be immersed in a vocabulary-rich environment
  • Comprehensible Input

Focus on key vocabulary:

    • contextualizing key vocabulary
    • vocabulary self-selection
    • personal dictionaries
    • content word wall
    • concept definition map
    • cloze sentences
    • word sorts
    • word generation
    • visual vocabulary
    • vocabulary through songs

3 Features of Comprehensible Input

    • Clear explanation of academic tasks
    • Speech appropriate for students' proficiency level
    • variety of techniques used to make content concepts clear
    • Explanation of Academic Tasks
      • present instructions in a step-by-step manner and/or with demonstrations
      • peer modeling
    • Scaffolding
      • verbal scaffolding-paraphrasing, think-alouds, reinforcing contextual definitions
      • procedural scaffolding
      • Increasing Independence
        • explicit teaching-modeling-practicing
  • Student Engagement
    • Learning is more effective when students have an opportunity to participate fully-discussing idea and information
    • Effective teachers strive to provide a more balanced linguistic exchange between themselves and their students-ELL students need to practice speaking
    • Interaction accesses the thought processes of another and solidifies one's own thinking
    • Talking to others, either in pairs or small groups allows for oral rehearsal of learning
    • encourage more elaborate responses
    • vary grouping configurations (random, voluntary, teacher assigned)
      • whole group, flexible small groups, partners/triads
      • homogeneous/heterogeneous (gender, language proficiency, ability)
    • allow adequate wait time
    • clarify concepts in L1 if needed-teacher or peers clarify concepts or use native text, dictionaries or other tools
    • Students should be engaged approximately 90-100% of the time during the lesson ( engagement minimizes boredom and off task behaviors)
    • Pacing of the lesson should be appropriate to the students' ability level (brisk enough to maintain students' interest, but not too quick to lose their understanding)
  • Feedback
    • Providing comprehensive review of key vocabulary
      • teach, review, assess, use
        • word study notebooks
        • content word walls
    • Supply comprehensive review of key content concepts
      • review content directly related to the objectives throughout the lesson
      • use graphic organizers as review
    • Regularly give feedback to students on their output
      • clarify
      • discuss
      • correct responses
    • Assessment-gathering and synthesizing of information concerning student learning
    • Evaluation- making judgments about students' learning
    • Informal Assessment
      • on-the spot,
      • on-going opportunities to determine the extent of students' learning
      • includes: teacher observations, anecdotal reports, informal conversations with students, quick writes
    • Authentic Assessment
      • application to real life-real life contexts
      • multi-dimensional
        • portfolios
        • student's writings
        • taped pieces
        • interviews
        • videotapes
        • observations
        • projects
        • discussions
        • performances
    • includes multiple indicators to show competency of a content objective- use of a rubric
    • group responses
      • agree/disagree, true/false, yes/no index cards-happy face-sad face on a stick
      • thumb up-down
      • stand up-sit down
      • numbered wheels
      • dry erase response boards

Listening and Speaking Edit

Listening and Speaking Skills Edit

Listening SkillsEdit

Listening is an important part of communicating. For most ELL students English is not spoken outside of the classroom or at home which is difficult for teachers in the classroom. The better ELL students are able to understand what is spoken, their communications skills will improve. Students' silent period will decrease and friendships will form.

Teachers are to consider the following when preparing lesson plans:

  • What is the context for listening?
  • Should one or two items from the listening exercises be modeled for the whole class so that learners know what to do?
  • How many times should the item be heard by students?
  • How will learners check the accuracy of their listening? (that is, the students’ answers?)
  • Is it possible to check listening accuracy to be done independently or collaboratively?

An effective teacher is aware that students are not always able to develop oral comprehension skills on their own; without additional supports listening, by itself, is not enough to develop better listening skills. The following are skills teachers can use in the classroom to enhance listening skills:

  • Promote active listening: Giving the students something to listen for ensures that they are involved in the task. Exercise sheets are another tool that promote active listening;
  • Identify listening strategies: Give the students tools to guide their listening; such as, looking for specific information, identifying predictable words or phrases, or discussing what they expect in certain forms of speech; such as, newscasts or advertisements.;
  • Selecting the most appropriate strategy for presenting the lesson; for example, using a top down (general meaning, summarizing) or bottom up (cognates, specific words, word order patterns) approach;
  • Allow the students to hear as much of the target language as possible while using a variety of teaching methods; for example, sometimes using visual cues, at other times not;
  • Use authentic materials; for example, a lecture or a radio announcement in the target language, to help students become accustomed to different accents and to a realistic pace of speech;
  • Ensure the students know the goals of the listening task: is the goal to understand what’s being said, to decide whether to keep listening or to obtain specific information?
  • Provide opportunities for reflection and discussion so the students can share what was heard, what was learned and methods they employed to better understand what was said;
  • Organize pre-listening activities, such as providing students with relevant vocabulary, reading a related text, looking at a related image or clarifying necessary cultural information etc.;
  • Be sure to check level of the listening exercise beforehand to ensure it is an appropriate level for the students.

Speaking Skills Edit

Students must be able to communicate in and outside of the classroom. Communicating thoughts and ideas are essential for all students especially when used correctly.

In planning speaking activities, teachers need to decide whether students need high structure (for example drills and controlled practice) for practice in learning or low structure (for example role plays, simulations).

The following are questions the teacher need to consider in speaking:

  • Is it necessary to review the language to be used in a task?
  • Will the learners work in pairs or small groups?
  • How will learners be monitored as they complete task?
  • How will teachers provide feedback to students?

The 3 areas teachers must consider when developing activities or lessons for speaking:

  • Mechanics: the different pieces that make up speaking including pronunciation, vocab, grammar and word order.
  • Functions: the uses of speaking whether for transaction or interaction, and when precise understanding is or is not required.
  • Social/Cultural rules and norms: cultural value inherent in the language’s culture, such as turn taking, social norms, roles of participants, etiquette and social register.

The following are speaking skills teachers can use to minimize students’ anxiety and to make the development as efficient and practical as possible. This way, students will learn more and have increased motivation to continue this skill development.

  • Create authentic practice activities that as similar to real-life as possible
  • Create different contexts in which students can practice in order to broaden their vocabulary and experiential horizons
  • Provide scaffolding and support for each context; this means making sure students are aware of the appropriate vocabulary and what social or cultural norms are appropriate
  • Don’t focus solely on errors; correct as much as each student can handle, more advanced students can often handle more correction, but avoid excessive correction if it will promote anxiety
  • Be aware of Higgs, what students at different levels can focus on
  • Give students options to use when responding to questions and teach them those options; allow them to use minimal responses if it reduces anxiety but make sure all students are aware of the possibilities. This allows for differentiation, as students can use the level of response that they feel comfortable with
  • Develop routines involving certain scripts so students become comfortable and familiar with those scripts
  • Use gestures to help get meaning across and encourage students to do the same; emphasize that what is important is the meaning.
  • Make it fun!
Bilash (2009) Edit

Listening and Speaking Instructional Strategies Edit

Being able to speak fluent English is such an important skill for students. Most of the time in order for an ELL student to enter a mainstream class, a certain score must be obtained for the oral portion of the language proficiency assessment.

More times than not, we will have at least one student who will be too shy to communicate answers, even when they have the correct ones. Below are some strategies to help strengthen and project a stronger speaking skill set.

  • Model Language – saying aloud and writing the ideas and concepts that are being discussed.
  • Read Alouds – gives an opportunity to hear and model what a fluent reader should sound like
  • Explicatively – Name everything. Every activity approached, give a name, that way it becomes routine and students start to recognize the activity that is about to happen.
  • Retell – By having students retell the story they can use their own words and give you an opportunity to create a language experience chart for future activities.
  • Practice Dictation – is as simple as it sounds. Practice words, sentences, or any variety but give the students opportunities to practice.
  • Correct Content – By not focusing on the grammar and more technical side every time, by correcting the content we can properly demonstrate accurate grammar in the process.

Example of correcting content:

Student: I put mines pencil on that desk. Teacher: I put my pencil on that desk, too. OR Student: Who go to bring lunch count today? Teacher: Hmmm, let’s see . . . Who is going to bring the lunch count to the office today?” (Scholastic, N.D.)

(Scholastic, N.D.)

Story Reenactment

  • The story reenactment strategy gives students the opportunity to retell a story that they have read using props through reenactment in small groups. This strategy allows EL students to practice both their listening and speaking skills as they verbally retell the story and listen to their peers retell the story as they reenact it. Students also strengthen their reading comprehension skills as they recall the main idea and other important story elements with their peers (Herrell & Jordan, 2016).

Steps for Story Reenactment

  • Students read a grade-level appropriate story.
  • Students brainstorm props that would be needed to accurately reenact the story as they retell and summarize the story.
  • Create the props that are needed or repurpose objects in the classroom to represent the props.
  • Students reenact the story using these props in pairs or small groups.
  • Assess the reenactments and make notes about language usage and how well students comprehended the story.

(Herrell & Jordan, 2016)

Multimedia Presentations

  • Using multimedia presentations in an EL classroom is a a great way to incorporate technology into a lesson while students have the opportunity to practice listening and speaking skills. Students can benefit from using multimedia because they can use visuals to support their presentation or report. EL students can use multimedia presentation to improve their listening and speaking skills as they listen to the presentations of their teacher or peers and verbally give their own presentation (Herrell & Jordan, 2016).

Steps for Multimedia Presentations

  • Model the use of multimedia by using video clips, audio recordings, projectors, interactive whiteboards and other sources of multimedia.
  • Slowly introduce different multimedia tools and only introduce new tools as appropriate. Allow students the chance to practice using these tools and give presentation tips such as where to stand and how to use special features of the particular tool.
  • Allow students to work with multimedia tools in pairs. Students with more experience with multimedia can help students with less experience become more comfortable with these tools.
  • Create an assignment that incorporates the multimedia tools students have been introduced to. Start simple and gradually add in more sophisticated multimedia tools.

(Herrell & Jordan, 2016)

Listening and Speaking Technology Tools Edit

  • This website focuses on reading comprehension instruction from kindergarten to 12th grade. It also features Article-A-Day to build student background knowledge, vocabulary and reading stamina. The passages come in all content areas including STEM, social studies, poetry, arts, etc. It has questions that build comprehension, has automatic grading of questions (except short answer) and tracks student progress. This website easily differentiates to reach every learner by using StepReads and audio versions for all passages. This would be great for EL students of any proficiency level.

iPadio Podcast

  • Speaking and Listening standards can be supported by the creation of podcasts. Students can practice fluency, produce books reviews, or reflect on an assignment of any content area, just to name a few. Not only are podcasts a great tool for students, but but they are effective for teachers as well. Teachers can create podcasts geared towards their students for various subject matter and students can listen to it whenever they want. May be best for low intermediate proficiency levels and higher.

  • Not only is this website used for digital storytelling, but for listening skills, the is wonderful. It creates lessons around NPR stories and groups them into lessons and current events. There are listening guides where students can listen for certain phrases in the story and check them off as they hear them. Great for differentiation and all ELL proficiency levels.

("Literacy In The Digital Age: Nine Great Speaking And Listening Tools", 2015).

English Central

  • English Central is a great tool to use not only for students, but for anyone looking to learn English. You watch videos daily based on your level. The videos have subtitles as well to see the words as they are spoken. At the end of the video, you pick the words you need to learn. From there, you repeat the words and other phrases that are said and are graded on how accurately the words are pronounced. The site keeps up with your progress through your account. It is a paid site, so very little is actually free. (English Central, 2018)


  • Blabberize is a website and iOS application that lets you upload or browse for a photo. Once you have created an account and uploaded the photo, the mouth moves while you seak. It is a crude animation but it is humorous and can help the students reel more at ease speaking the new language as it is not their face you see but the picture. (Mobouy inc., 2018)


  • Vocaroo is about as simple as it gets. It is a website with a record button. You simply record your voice and whatever you want to say. Once you are done recording, it gives you a link to embed to a website or email it. The recordings are easily shared and the straightforward website makes it easy to use for anyone. (Vocaroo, 2018)

Grammar and Word Study Edit

Grammar and Word Study Skills Edit

For English language learners (ELLs), vocabulary development is especially important. The average native English speaker enters kindergarten knowing at least 5,000 words. The average ELL may know 5,000 words in his or her native language, but very few words in English. While native speakers continue to learn new words, ELLs face the double challenge of building that foundation and then closing the gap.

Pre-teach Vocabulary

Before doing an activity, teaching content, or reading a story in class, pre-teaching vocabulary is always helpful, especially for ELLs. This will give them the chance to identify words and then be able to place them in context and remember them. Using the following methods to pre-teach:

·       Role playing or pantomiming

·       Using gestures

·       Showing real objects

·       Pointing to pictures

·       Doing quick drawings on the board

·       Using the Spanish equivalent and then asking students to say the word in English

To ensure mastery of more complex words and concepts, use the following six ESL steps:

1.    Pre-select a word from an upcoming text or conversation.

2.    Explain the meaning with student-friendly definitions.

3.    Provide examples of how it is used.

4.    Ask students to repeat the word three times.

5.    Engage students in activities to develop mastery.

6.    Ask students to say the word again

(Colorado, Colorin, 2019)

Teaching grammar and word study

·       What it means It is vital to get across the meaning of the item clearly and to ensure that your students have understood correctly with checking questions.

·       The form Students need to know if it is a verb / a noun / an adjective etc to be able to use it effectively.

·       How it is pronounced-sometimes a problem for EL students.  Some words are pronounced different from written form. It is very important to use the phonemic script in such cases so the students have a clear written record of the pronunciation. Don't forget also to drill words that you think will cause pronunciation problems for your students and highlight the word stresses.

·       How it is spelled Some words spoken and spelled differently. clarify the pronunciation before showing the written form.

·       Unpredictable grammatical patterns For example, man-men / information (uncountable) and if the word is followed by a particular preposition (e.g. depend on)

·       The connotations that the item may have Bachelor is a neutral/positive word whereas spinster conjures a more negative image.

·       The situations when the word is or is not used Is it formal/neutral/informal? For example, spectacles/glasses/specs. Is it used mainly in speech or in writing? To sum up is usually written whereas mind you is spoken. Is it outdated? Wireless instead of radio.

·       How the word is related to others For example, synonyms, antonyms, lexical sets.

·       Collocation or the way that words occur together You describe things 'in great detail' not 'in big detail' and to ask a question you 'raise your hand' you don't 'lift your hand'. It is important to highlight this to students to prevent mistakes in usage later.

·       What the affixes (the prefixes and suffixes) may indicate about the meaning For example, substandard sub meaning under. This is particularly useful at a higher level.

Ways to present vocabulary  There are lots of ways of getting across the meaning of a lexical item.

·       Illustration This is very useful for more concrete words (dog, rain, tall) and for visual learners. It has its limits though, not all items can be drawn.

·       Mime This lends itself particularly well to action verbs and it can be fun and memorable.

·       Synonyms/Antonyms/Gradable items Using the words a student already knows can be effective for getting meaning across.

·       Definition Make sure that it is clear (maybe check in a learner dictionary before the lesson if you are not confident). Remember to ask questions to check they have understood properly.

·       Translation If you know the students' L1, then it is fast and efficient. Remember that not every word has a direct translation.

·       Context Think of a clear context when the word is used and either describe it to the students or give them example sentences to clarify meaning further.

Again which you choose will depend on the item you are presenting. Some are more suitable for particular words. Often a combination of techniques can be both helpful and memorable

Alternative ways of teaching vocabulary

·       Give your students a few items of vocabulary and tell them to find the meaning, pronunciation and write an example sentence with the word in. They can then teach each other in groups.

·       Prepare worksheets and ask your students to match words to definitions.

·       Ask students to classify a group of words into different categories. For example, a list of transport words into air/sea/land.

·       Ask students to find new vocabulary from reading homework and teach the other students in the class.

Other things to consider

·       Review the vocabulary you teach through a game or activity and encourage your students to do the same at home

·       Encourage autonomy in your learners. Tell them to read, watch films, listen to songs etc and note the useful words

·       Have a section of your board for vocabulary items that come up as you are teaching. Use different colours for the word / the phonemics / the prepositions / the part of speech

Grammar and Word Study Instructional Strategies Edit

Vocabulary Role-Play

Students explore new vocabulary words in different contexts through role-playing. Students are divided into groups and are asked to use their new vocabulary words to write and perform skits (Herrell & Jordan, 2016). Using their past experiences, the current content that is being studied, and their vocabulary words each group will likely create scripts that use their vocabulary words in different contexts which will give all students exposure to the multiple ways a word can be used (Herrell & Jordan, 2016).

Steps for Vocabulary Role-Play

  • Determine the vocabulary words to be used
  • Teach the lesson or read the book that uses the vocabulary words. As the vocabulary words are presented, take a moment to discuss and act out the word. Reread the paragraph fluently after discussion so students can hear how the word is used in the passage.
  • After the lesson or taught or the book is read, create a discussion where students explain how they have seen these vocabulary words used in the past.
  • Sort the words by their parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives).
  • Encourage students to use these words throughout the day and give praise when they do.
  • Divide students into groups ensuring that each group has at least one strong reader. Assign groups vocabulary words and ask them to and instruct them to create a script that uses all assigned vocabulary words.
  • Have each group perform their skits and discuss how vocabulary words were used.
  • Compare and contrast how words were used in each skit and discuss how the same words are used in different contexts.

(Herrell & Jordan, 2016)

Labeling Objects

By making sure the spaces and areas our ELL will be most inhabiting is labeled, it gives us and them an opportunity to learn and teach the basic and most common locations/items that we as the teacher will be referring too. It will start to enforce concrete foundation of the most concepts through repeated exposure.

Syntax Surgery

Students write a sentence on a sentence strip and cut the sentence apart to rearrange it to make it easier to understand. When students physically see the sentence move to make it more comprehensible, they are more likely to remember English syntax rules. This strategy will also help students strengthen their understanding of the elements of writing and speaking helping ELL students become easier to understand (Herrell & Jordan, 2016).

Steps of Syntax Surgery

  • Identify a sentence that may be difficult for students to understand due to the complexity or if the home language word order conflicts with English word order.
  • Write the sentence on a sentence strip and read the sentence aloud.
  • Cut the sentence strip apart to rearrange the words in the order that they would be spoken in English.
  • Repeat with more sentences.

(Herrell & Jordan, 2016)

Word Walls

Word walls are often underrated. They are often one of the most useful tools and strategies that we can supply. It is most important to make sure they are visible, current and legible in all classrooms that the ELL students are attending. A bonus is incorporating visuals next to the word. This helps the students form relationships with and for the word.

Context Clues

For our more intermediate students, learning how to use context clues and when to use them is a basic skill. This is important because as they recognize these context clues, the student has a higher (and more independent) opportunity of figuring out basic words. This hopefully will lead to scaffolding from basic words to more difficult and advanced words.

Vocabulary Improv

Vocabulary improv has become quite a favorite and more used strategies among teachers. It is a step away from traditional learning and quite frankly just adds a fun element to the lesson. It combines the use of simple words and motions. Many students, non ELL included, finding that by creating a kinesthetic motion with the desired word provides a higher percentage of remembering the word!

An Example of this is provided in the following video:

Vocabulary Games

This is another informal way of learning. It combines the use of games with the intent of learning. It is important the chosen games involve a large amount of speaking and understanding, but also a lot of fun and color. This immediately becomes less intimidating than a blank, white worksheet. Students can reuse and replay games using more advanced vocabulary once they reach that level and therefore, earn bonus points when incorporating past vocabulary with the new and more advanced vocabulary.

Common Games Include:

  • Go Fish
  • Oranges to Oranges
  • Vocab Land
  • Guess that Word

(Vocab Girl, 2018)

Visual Scaffolding

Visual Scaffolding is actually a very popular method, just not normally spoken about by this name. This is the process when we take the language we use in the lesson and make it more understandable. Then we take key words, vocab and concepts and drawings or photographs that make the meanings and language more understandable. This process connects the spoken words to visual images, and allow room for drawings, hard copies, digital copies, etc. The following steps are the recommended steps to execute this strategy.

Steps of Visual Scaffolding:

  • Identify Vocabulary
  • Collect Visuals
  • Reproduce and Organize Visuals
  • Engage the Students
  • Build the File

(Herrell & Jordan, 2016)

Grammar and Word Study Technology Tools and Resources Edit 

  • The website contains a section of self-study quizzes for ESL students that cover a wide range of areas including quizzes on homonyms, grammar, vocabulary, idioms, slang, and so much more. The quizzes come in various difficulties from easy with pictures, all the way up to difficult, making this appropriate for different proficiencies. 


  • This website has a game called The Grammar Gorillas, which helps students recognized different parts of speech in a fun and memorable way. It comes in two levels, beginner (nouns and verbs only) and advanced (all parts of speech). Students need to select the correct part of speech to complete the sentence, and if done correctly, the Grammar Gorilla gets a banana. Even though there is an advanced level, this game would be better suited for younger EL students up to grade 4. 

Free Rice 

  • Free Rice is a free online vocabulary game. Not only does it provide an opportunity to promote students' engagement with words, but they are also contributing to the social good, since with every correct answer, the United Nations World Food Programme donates 10 grains of rice to countries in need. The game adjusts its difficulty level based on response, and students could play individually, with partners, or even as a whole class to discuss the answer. Word study strategies can be used like looking for root words, studying a prefix or suffix, etc. There are vocabulary words for many subject areas including science, humanities and geography.  ("Free Rice 2.0", 2018). 

Rocket Spelling

  • Rocket Spelling is an online tool that encourages learners of all ages and ability levels to want to learn. It uses graphics and games to help you learn how to spell more than 1,200 high frequency words. After you beat each level or set of words, you get a medal. It also provides instant feedback to the students and teacher. It is also low cost to the school at only $3 per student per year and a minimum of only five students. (RocketSpelling, 2019)


  • FluentU uses authentic English videos at varying levels and ages to help people learn English. The videos are all captioned in English with the ability to pause any video to learn the meaning of a word, or simply make sure you understood what was being said. Learning mode uses stills from the video to reiterate the meaning of things. This is also a multi-platform tool as it has an app for Android and IOS operating systems. (Fluent Flix Limited, 2019)

References Edit

Bilash, Olenka (2009), Improving Second Language Education Retrieved from

Breiseth, Lydia (March 4, 2010) Reading Comprehension Strategies for English Language Learners Retrieved from

Colorado, Colorin (2019) Vocabulary Developing with ELL

ELL/ESL resources to succeed in school(2018). Retrieved from

English Central. (2018). Learn English with the World's Best Videos. Retrieved from English Central:

Fluent Flix Limited. (2019). Fluent U. Retrieved from Fluent U:

Free rice 2.0(2018). Retrieved from

Herrell, A. & Jordan, M. (2016) 50 Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners, Pearson, New York, New York

Kelly, K. S. (2017). Tech tools to support English learners’ literacy and language development. Retrieved from

Literacy in the digital age: nine great speaking and listening tools(2015). Retrieved from

Mobouy inc. (2018). Blabberize. Retrieved from Blabberize:

Rivera, Rudyanne Linstrom & David Bautista (n.d) Making Content Comprehensible for English Language Learners

Scholastic (N.D.) Teaching ELL: Speaking Strategies,, Retrieved by

RocketSpelling. (2019). Rocket Spelling. Retrieved from Rocket Spelling:

Seifert, Stephen (N.D.) 7 Powerful Writing Skills That Will Give Your ESL Students an Edge,, Retrieved by

Vocab Gal (August 30, 2018) Englsih Language Arts Blog,, Retrieved by

Verner, S. (2018). 4 Great Grouping Strategies for More Effective ESL Group Work. Retrieved from FluentU English Educator Blog:

Vocaroo. (2018). Vocaroo. Retrieved from Vocaroo:

Zakhareuski, A. (n.d.). 10 modern ways to use technology in ESL instruction. Retrieved from


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