Tuesday, September 3, 2013

TESOL Teaching Tips #48 - Back to Basics for My ESL Babies

As a teacher at an International School, many of my students are English Language Learners. Even my native English speakers are living in a non-English speaking country. Due to my unique teaching position, I have had some readers ask for tips on teaching English Language Learners. Here is this week’s Tuesday TESOL Teaching Tip:

TESOL Teaching Tips #48 - Some students will need alphabet help. Different languages have different alphabets and different alphabet sounds. ESL or ELL students sometimes need to go back to basics. Find more information on how to help your students out on my blog - Raki's Rad Resources.

TESOL Teaching Tip #48 - Go back to basics
I teach intermediate grades – 2nd through 5th (Year 3 – Year 6), so I don’t generally teach the alphabet or letter sounds, beyond long vowel patterns and dipthongs.  However, every time I have a first year ESL student, I make sure to take the time to go back to basics.  By first year ESL student, I mean a student who is spending their first year in academic English.  Some of these students only need to identify the letters that make different sounds in English than they do in their home languages.  For example J says “y” in Spanish and U says “ooo” in French. 

photo(20) However, this year, I have two students who are only literate in Arabic.  They’ve each had just enough French and English to know most of the letter names, but are completely confused when it comes to what sounds the letters make.  So, this week and next week – and honestly as long as they need it – we are spending some of our Guided Reading time reviewing letters and letter sounds.  I am using my Phonics Poster Set, that I used at the beginning of the year when I taught 1st grade, and we are singing those sounds with motions that I picked up from a teacher who used Jolly Phonics.  In addition to working on letters and sounds, we are building vocabulary and the concept that different letters make more than one sound – vowels, C and G - and that there are common consonant digraphs.
While it is time consuming to do this at this time of the year, I know that I am building a solid base for my students now, that they will stand on firmly in all of their years of reading English in the future.

Successful Strategies for English Language Learners by Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad ResourcesDo you enjoy the weekly TESOL Teaching Tips? Would you like to view an hour long presentation on this topic? I recently presented on Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners at the Everything’s Intermediate Expo. Now you can grab the presentation for just $3.95 from Teacher’s Notebook.


Find more TESOL Teaching Tips here, and come back every Tuesday for a new tip!