Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Collection of Knowledge About Teaching ESL - 55 TESOL Teaching Tips

Fifty five tips for teaching ell (or esl or esol) students. These tips were accumulated over years fo teaching in American and overseas in Morocco at international schools. Tips from Raki's Rad Resources.

When I started out my undergraduate work in education, I did not plan to focus my energies on English Language Learners. I actually started in a dual major program at New Mexico State University in an attempt to be certified in Elementary Education and Special Education. After two years I moved to Kennesaw State University, which did not have Bachelor's program in Special Education. So I decided to get my Bachelor's in Elementary Education with the plan of returning and getting a Master's in Special Education. However, as often happens in life, things went in a slightly different direction. 

My first year of teaching I had a student who changed the way I looked at life. He had come from Argentina by way of China. He had moved around a lot and had not always been in school. He came to me as a third grader with about one year of total school experience and an incomplete grasp of both Mandarin and Spanish. For two months all I ever heard from him was "Teacher, bathroom?" He hid in the bathroom to get away from the stress that was my classroom. But by the end of the year he talked non stop to all of his friends, in English. Watching him learn English was amazingly inspirational. It changed the way I looked at teaching.

Teaching this student also allowed me to understand my husband in a new and different way. My husband (who blogs at Raki's Rad Language Resources) speaks five languages. English is the last language he learned and when we got married he had only been speaking English for a little over a year. I knew that he was learning the language, but I didin't really appreciate what that meant until I had the opportunity to really work with someone who had no English. It was then that I realized how amazing language learning is. 

From this point forward, I started doing research on my own about language learning. I participated in a Sheltered Instruction for Other Programs (SIOP) training to learn about how to teaching ESL students while still teaching your standards. I studied and took the test to add the ESOL endorsement to my teaching certificate. But most importantly I taught ESL students. 

Because of my growing interest in ESL, my school "cluster grouped" the ESL students into my room. Working with these students taught me more than any article or book I read. I learned to differentiate between which students could and couldn't read in their home language, and what differences that made in how they learned. I learned that they mimicked my own accent as they were learning to pronounce words. I learned that students needed to know how to say "I need a pencil." before we could think about working on content.

Then of course we made the infamous move to Morocco. When I moved to Morocco I thought I was really good at teaching ESL, and I had a good base. But the needs of my students in Morocco were so much more intense because I was literally the ONLY English many of my students got. In the US my students had exposure to t.v. shows, movies, store clerks and bus drivers who spoke English. In Morocco when my kids walked out of the door they often didn't hear another word of English until they walked back in it. This teaching experience is when I really started to refine my instructional strategies. Three years of watching my students go from "I need pencil." to talking my ear off and reading on level taught me so much.

While I was teaching in Morocco, I blogged about the process in an effort to share the strategies I was learning with other teachers. Since I have been back in the US homeschooling I haven't blogged about these strategies, but I have used them. My sons complete school work every day in English, French and Arabic. Since French and Arabic are not their home language, they need the same kinds of strategies that I used for teaching my English Language Learners. Realistically the strategies I learned are Language Acquisition Strategies, not English Language strategies.

It's been awhile since I blogged about language learning, but I have a ton of TESOL Teaching Tips here on the blog. Here are the 55 tips that I think are the most important for teaching someone who is learning the language. Each of these strategies have been explained further with the blog post that is linked here.

1.) Use images

2.) Speak slowly

3.) Let students talk!

4.) Correct their mistakes - sometimes!

5.) Teach vocabulary every day

6.) Repeat yourself often

7.) Teach kids HOW to listen

8.) Find what your students' literacy level is

9.) Know a few key words in their home languages

10.) Understand cultural effects of language

11.) Teach inferencing

TESOL Teaching Tip #11 - Teach students how to read between the lines or making inferences - reading comprehension for esl or ell students. Blog post from Raki's Rad Resources.

12.) Teach body language

13.) Utilize background knowledge

TESOL Teaching Tip #13 - Utilize the background knowledge of your students to help them understand what you are teaching them. Read more about how you can help your esl or ell students in this blog post at Raki's Rad Resources.

14.) Find a way to communicate with families

15.) Use technology

16.) Teach social expectations

17.) Teach a lot of grammar

18.) Understand the silent period

19.) Appreciate the differences of how students learn

20.) Use peer tutors - sometimes

21.) Teach non language learners about language learning

22.) Use best practices

23.) Explore culture shock

24.) Expect language growth to cycle

25.) Learn a language yourself

26.) Teach cognates

27.) Know how long your students have been learning English

28.) Give context clues

29.) Know your kids

30.) Explain the connections

31.) Let them count in their home language

TESOL Teaching Tip #31 - Let students count in their home language. Basic math skills can be done in the home language without compromising English language learning for your esl and ell students. Read how this work on my blog - Raki's Rad Resources.

32.) Graph out student understandings

33.) Allow transition time after breaks

34.) Use teachable moments

35.) Know why they're learning English

TESOL Teaching Tip #35 - Know why students are learning English. The reasons behind a student's desire (or lack of desire) to learn English can help you to better engage and motivate your students. Find out some of hte most common reasons for esl and ell students to learn English in this blog post at Raki's Rad Resources.

36.) Understand how listening happens

TESOL Teaching Tip #36 - Understand how to teach listening. Listening is one of the hardest skills to teach esl or ell students, but it is also one of the most important. Read this blog post at Raki's Rad Resources to find specific strategies for helping students to listen to you.

37.) Use the media

38.) Find the gaps

TESOL Teaching Tiip #38 - Expect gaps in your students' learning. ESL or ELL students often have gaps in their learning from focusing on figuring out the English rather than the content. This blog post at Raki's Rad Resources will give you some strategies to help fill in those gaps for your students.

39.) Teach common culture

TESOL Teaching Tip #39 - Teach students common culture ideas like nursery rhymes and fairy tlaes. ESL or ELL students often do not know these US and UK stories and miss out on understanding and inferring when they reader harder texts because of it. For some great techniques on how to teach common culture, stop by the blog - Raki's Rad Resources.

40.) Practice writing a lot

TESOL Teaching Tip #40 - Kick start writing for esl and ell students. These students need to write as much as possible as often as possible in a guided fashion. For help kick starting writing with your language learning students, check out this blog post at Raki's Rad Resources.

41.) Teach prepositions and positional words

TESOL Teaching Tip #41 - Spend time on prepositions and positional words. Prepositions can be very different from language to language and they can be challenging for esl or ell students to discern which word to use. Stop by this blog post at Raki's Rad Resources to learn strategies for teaching this important skill.

42.) Teach verb conjugation

TESOL Teaching Tip #42 - Teach verb conjugations. Verb conjugations are very important in other languages, so students who are transfering from a conjugation heavy language to English need to know how English verbs conjugate as well. Stop by this blog post at Raki's Rad Resources to find strategies and download a freebie that will help you teach verb conjugations to your esl or ell students.

43.) Put yourself in their shoes

TESOL Teaching Tip #43 - Put yourself in your students' shoes by learning a language. Even if you only take a few classes, you will soon feel what your students feel every day. This experience will help you build understanding of the mistakes your esl or ell students often make. Read the entire blog post at my site - Raki's Rad Resources

44.) Appreciate how dialect changes languages

TESOL Teaching Tip #44 - Teach dialectical words to esl and ell students. The way we speak turns into the way our students speak, but the way we speak may not be the way everybody speaks. Taking time to teach our students about different dialects of English can help make them stronger students. Find more specific information on my blog - Raki's Rad Resources.

45.) Teach taboo words

TESOL Teaching Tip - Teach taboo words. Students will hear taboo words in songs and on the streets. ESL or ELL students often don't know that these words are taboo, so we need to teach them. For specific information on this topic, come to my blog - Raki's Rad Resources.

46.) Explain your read alouds

TESOL Teaching Tip #46 - Help esl or ell students understand your read alouds better. Students need assistance with this important skill and this blog post at Raki's Rad Resources gives you lots of strategies for this.

47.) Let students create videos

TESOL Teaching Tip #47 - Let students create videos in order to practice speaking. Creating videos provides many benefits for esl and ell students. Find strategies and website suggestions at this blog post on Raki's Rad Resources.

48.) Some students need alphabet help

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.

49.) Use regalia and videos

TESOL Teaching Tip #49 - Use regalia and videos to help your esl or ell students understand vocabulary. Find specific tips on how to do this at my blog post - Raki's Rad Resources

50.) Talk about home life with your students

TESOL Teaching Tip #50 - Talk to your ESL or ELL students about their home life. These little conversations turn into big conversations and build up your understanding of your students. Find information about this topic at my blog - Raki's Rad Resources.

51.) Remember that summer limits English exposure

TESOL Teaching Tip #51 - Give esl and ell students a chance to get back into their school routine before doing beginning of the year assessments. Students have limited English exposure over the summer and need a few weeks of English to reacclimate. Find more information on this topic at my blog - Raki's Rad Resources.

52.) Encourage students to maintain their home language

TESOL Teaching Tip #52 - Maintaining Home Language is Important for English Language Development. Students who are strong in their home language are able to develop better English skills. To learn how to help your ESL and ELL students maintain their home language, stop by my blog - Raki's Rad Resources.

53.) Include ESL students in whole class discussions

TESOL Teaching Tip #53 - Let students have and participate in whole class discussions. ESL and ELL students need to use their language well in order to become proficient. Stop by my blog - Raki's Rad Resources - for strategies on how to help your students build their proficiency.

54.) Give students alternatives to presenting in front of class

TESOL Teaching Tip #54 - Give students alternatives to presenting in front of the class. Presenting can make ESL or ELL students nervous and prohibit language ability. Find four alternatives and more at my blog post on Raki's Rad Resources.

55.) Create procedures for using translation apps

TESOL Teaching Tip #55 - Create rules for using translation applications in the classroom. Translation apps can be a great assistance to esl or ell students when used in moderation. Find information about how you can help your students at my blog - Raki's Rad Resources.

Do you have any tips for teaching TESOL?