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Home : 2002 : Mar : 11

    By Julianne

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    I'm currently working on an ESL endorsement. My classroom this year has 10 limited English speakers, 2 proficient bilingual students and 7 native English speakers. I expect this kind of a mix every year in my current assignment, hence the need for the ESL endorsement. Here are some of the accommodations I've made in my teaching practices so far:

    In reading we do much more shared reading before introducing small group guided reading instruction. We make sure our story introductions are thorough and that we check carefully for the child's background knowledge. In other words, we don't assume that the child has been to a birthday party or ridden in a plane. We give concrete examples of things that might be misunderstood or unfamiliar. When selecting books for guided reading groups we try to choose texts that are of interest to a broad range of students. An example: most students go to the grocery store with their parent, so a book about buying things at the store is a good choice, but a book on going camping might not be as well received because many of our students have never camped. Interactive writing, read alouds and direct instruction in reading skills also help ESL students succeed in reading.

    Other general practices in our classroom that help ESL: pairing English speakers with non-speakers, teaching content through cooperative learning groups, using graphic organizers to help students organize and use information more effectively, being sure the classroom is filled with an abundance of real, hands-on materials for students to draw upon, valuing and validating each child's home culture and language as much as possible.

    So much of what we need to do for ESL is just good teaching practice for all learners. I enjoy working with this population. There is never a dull moment in our classroom!

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