Specific strategies for English Language Learners (ELL)

I currently teach Science in English for ELL students from Grades 7 – 9 in middle school and in the next semester I will be likely teaching about “The Water Cycle” using the teaching strategy of Content-based English as a Second Language (ESL).  The overall goal is proficiency in English while learning content in an all-English setting with instructions that are adapted to students’ proficiency level and supplemented by gestures, visual aids along with other methods. e.g., early exit may use L1 (their first language) for some classes and SDAIE (Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English) for others.

Wittaya – He is a new student (Thai native) that has enrolled this year in Grade 7.  He is generally silent in class but has made a couple of new friends recently.  He knows or remembers simple phrases such as “May I go to the toilet please?” He is also able to recognize some vocabulary but he struggles sometimes to form his own sentences.  However, according to the WIDA cognitive function, I believe he is between level 1 and 2 (entering and emerging). Everyone would receive the handout about the water cycle.   Wittaya will be put into a group where the Tiers match.   In his group I would instruct them to just look or read the sheet and highlight any words they recognise and then see if they can match pictures of systems or processes with the vocabulary (such as evaporate, condenses etc).

Malina – She is half Thai and half American.  She has great enthusiasm and is fluent in both Thai and English languages.  Her comprehension is very high, but her academic writing for English is around level 4-5 (expanding and bridging) on the WIDA standards.  She is one of the only students with this high comprehension level for this grade.  I would have to differentiate by extension so that she can expand and make connections.  This would involve asking her to sort through the descriptive sentences by systems or steps in the process such as by sequencing or classifying, for example “before, after; goes with and belongs to; is like, is different from…”.

Nail – He is a Thai native student that has been attending the school since it opened three years ago.  He is enthusiastic and enjoys participating in experiments.  His comprehension and understanding for English is between level 2-3 (emerging and developing) on the WIDA standards.  He is proficient in recognising vocabulary and matching images but is low in comprehension of sentences structures.  I would match him with his tier group and ask them to highlight a sentence and then match the pictures with their highlighted phrases that are descriptive of the systems or processes.

Thanchanok – She is a polite student (Thai native) that has low comprehension when reading but her listening and speaking is at level 3 (developing).  With the hand-out being text and a picture, I would differentiate by support.  Allowing her to work in a group that are around the same WIDA level as her.  I can also check on each group to facilitate but give a little more support to her if needed.


NECLA. (2011, November). WHAT LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS DO? Retrieved September 16, 2016, from NECLA: http://www.ncela.us/files/uploads/5/LIEPs0406BR.pdf

WIDA. (2012). Access for ELL. Retrieved september 15, 2016, from wida.us: https://www.wida.us/assessment/access/access_sample_items.pdf




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