Suggestions for Working with Beginning Level English Language Learners
I. Adapting Instruction
A. Limit the amount of time spent on lecturing. However, when presenting/lecturing:
1. Simplify your English using simple sentence structure and simple vocabulary.
2. Keep terminology constant.
3. Speak clearly and a little slower.
4. When questioning a student, begin with yes/no questions; then proceed to
5. Use actions or body language to reinforce oral statements (check acceptable non-verbal behavior).
6. Present information in small, discrete and sequential steps. Simplify directions.
7. Check student’s comprehension on a regular and frequent basis (ask
questions, have them repeat or paraphrase directions, or have them demonstrate their
B. To increase comprehension use multi-sensory teaching techniques:
1. Increase “doing” or hands-on activities for students that do not involve reading or writing.
2. Use as many different kinds of media as are available to get a concept across (slides, films,
3. Increase use of demonstrations.
4. Include both verbal and non-verbal activities in each lesson.
5. Provide oral and written instructions for each day’s assignment.
6. Encourage group projects so that peer modeling and instruction can be utilized.
C. Help students develop his/her English language skills:
1. Build an oral and written inventory of key vocabulary and language structures to
be taught/used in lessons.
The following may be helpful…
a. Student created dictionary
b. Flash cards
c. Manipulatives (essential tools, materials)
2. Label important classroom materials and areas.
D. Help students understand cultural differences/similarities in education.
1. Orient students to your procedures, classroom and instructional expectations.
2. Acquaint students with school resources. The library, main office,
restrooms, cafeteria are essential areas for the student to know.
II. Adapting Materials
A. Supplement reading materials (texts):
1. Provide other activities to teach or reinforce concepts presented in text.
2. Provide additional visuals to illustrate concepts.
3. Provide brief outlines or student guides in simplified English or in native language.
B. Highlight key points and language in material:
1. Teach students to use index, graphs, chapter headings and other resources to skim
content and identify salient concepts.
2. Circle, underline or mark important words and statements.
3. Utilize cloze type assignments using content and concepts from books (allow open-
C. Adapt or rewrite materials when possible, into simpler English:
1. Use simple sentences; only one clause—four to six words when possible.
2. Use only simple tenses and avoid passive tense.
3. Use only one concept per sentence.
4. Eliminate unnecessary descriptions.
5. Substitute short, common synonyms for words that may be unfamiliar to students.
6. Use symbols instead of words when possible.
Above suggestions taken from the Akron Public Schools ESL Handbook