English Language Learners (ELL’s) need support adjusting to an English classroom. As teachers, it’s our responsibility (and passion) to differentiate instruction and provide appropriate accommodations so these ESL students can experience success and feel good about themselves and their learning.
Your first priority is to make sure the student feels a sense of belonging to the classroom community you’ve created, and is not afraid. Learning will happen if the student feels welcomed, and then if lessons are differentiated to allow them to participate according to their abilities.
Here is a quick checklist of ways to accommodate an ELL in the classroom:
- Represent their culture in the classroom
- Give them time just to get familiar and comfortable with the class, school, and new peers.
- Print clearly and simply – avoid cursive writing and small text.
- Support words and instructions – use images and visuals such as graphic organizers, pictures, and flow charts.
- Monitor your own talking – speak clearly, avoid slang and idiomatic expressions.
- Cue the student – create specific cues and rhythms for the classroom so they know what to expect during transitions.
- Check for comprehension – use gestures, smiles, props, and one-word answers. Avoid “do you understand?”
- Give extra time for tasks and assignments
- Diversify assessment strategies – write, say, and do.
- Word Walls with key vocabulary they need across all subjects
Teaching ESL students is an enriching experience and really helps us develop as teachers. Embrace the opportunity and challenge and enjoy the trip~!
The essay component, otherwise known as the Independent Writing component of the TOEFL test is a major contributor to your overall score and is often cited by my students as a difficult part to improve on. Of the 50 minutes for the Writing Section of the TOEFL iBT test, 30 minutes are giving for writing a 4-5 paragraph, 300-350 word essay. You write your essay in response to a given writing topic.
Three steps to Improving your TOEFL Essay:
Focus on the first step and then move on to the second, and finally the third. In other words, the steps are sequential and one should be mastered before focusing on the next.
Step 1 – Concentrate on Content and Form. Is the structure of your essay correct? Is there a clear introduction, thesis statement and conclusion? Do your ‘body’ paragraphs each have one clear point and supporting details? Is your essay accurately answering the question given and reflecting the writing sample provided (ie: is it logical)? Have you given examples where necessary? Are your topic statements clear and is your writing concise? Do your paragraphs flow from one to the other? Here’s an Essay Sequence Planner and Flow Chart to consider.
Step 2 – Focus on Accuracy. Clean up the grammar, spelling and punctuation that all work to polish an essay and make it more pleasing for the evaluator to read. Have you used a variety of sentence structures? Consider peer-editing with another student or friend. Often editing another person’s work helps you learn more about your own areas of weakness.
Step 3 – Work on your Speed. Now you want to try to get your polished essay done as quickly as you can. If you spend 30 minutes, four times a week, that’s 4 essays a week you’d be writing. Of course, while speed is the final step in polishing your essay-writing skills if you lack clean form, content and accuracy, then your essay is not going to score well.
If you’re looking for free online sample questions and essays, here’s a few places to start:
Happy TOEFL essay writing everyone!
There are many strategies to consider when wanting to teach or learn vocabulary.
Hands-on vocabulary learning seems to be the most effective that I’ve found, as having students use multiple senses when learning a new word seems to increase retention. Although, with this method the word gain is slow and it’s not always practical in the common classroom setting. Instead, I often try teaching vocabulary that is related to eachother, together – clusters!
Clustering, or using semantic clusters, basically means learning words around one theme or idea. These themes or ideas can be quite large such as “the world” (learn: countries, ocean, continent, to discover …) or can be more focused such as “coffee” (steam, espresso, to roast …).
A few ideas on how to teach using clusters:
- use theme-based ESL lessons instead of grammar-based. Grammar can be “snuck” into the lessons along with vocabulary that is related on a particular theme.
- use brainstorming charts where one word branches to another with visible cluster-like appearance.
- challenge students to find appropriate synonyms (words that have the same meaning).
- play Scattergories or Scrabble with a theme.
- If teaching reading, try to use a variety of resources – news articles, journals, dialogues, stories, podcasts – but with the same theme. This will increase the kinds of vocabulary that students are exposed to (expressive vs. written, for example).
Take advantage of some online resources! ^^
Cluster/Cloud Graphic Organizers and more Vocabulary graphic organizers – free printables
Teaching and Developing Vocabulary article by Houghton-Mifflin Reading.
Dictionary.com Word of the Day to help you increase your own vocabulary.