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Working with an English Language Learner

  • 1.  Working with an English Language Learner

    Posted 12-15-2018 02:18 AM
    I am a teacher assistant in kindergarten and I have a student who is learning how to speak English.
    I will appreciate if I can get advice on how to work with  the student so I can bring out the best in him.
    Thank you

    Teacher assistant
    American International School of lagos
    Lagos LA

  • 2.  RE: Working with an English Language Learner

    Posted 12-15-2018 12:37 PM
    Read aloud a lot of short children's poems (like It's Raining, It's Pouring) and nursery rhymes (like Little Miss Muffet), act them out and illustrate them with pictures.  You can also label everything in the room in English.  Play "Simon Says" and "I Spy" games to help increase vocabulary for boy part, classroom objects, clothing, etc.  Making connections with concrete objects and naming them are the first steps in oral language development for a second language learner.  You could also try buddying him up with a native English speaker who has patience and a talent for language.  I hope these ideas help.  Good luck in your endeavors!

    Pam Ebersole
    Early Childhood Educator
    Palm Bay, Florida

  • 3.  RE: Working with an English Language Learner

    Posted 12-16-2018 06:47 PM
    Describe what you are doing whenever you can. I.E. I am going to wash my hands. I am putting soap on my hands etc etc. You don't need to have the child by your side at every moment...just when it feels natural to have him/her there.Ask the parents to write (and if need be pronounce) common everyday words/phrases. "Are you hungry/", Do you need to use the bathroom?" etc. Say them in the native language followed by the phrase in English. Always keep it casual and natural. Not only will this help the child but also what a gift to you and the staff -learning the basic's of another language. As a bilingual person since birth I have read a lot of research that proves the benefits of bi/multilingual for brain development (no matter what age the second/third...language is learned. NAEYC:

    Karin King
    Education Consultant
    Trumbull CT

  • 4.  RE: Working with an English Language Learner

    Posted 12-17-2018 05:46 PM

    Success with an English Language learner is dependent upon many things.  First, it is important to understand that learning a new language is a long process and just like it is for native speakers except that they have the advantage of being born into an English speaking environment and have 5 years to learn.  Many students, young and not so young, go through a silent period where they do not speak, but they are listening and developing receptive language.  Celebrate what they are understanding and don't push the productive language until you see that the child is ready.  Observe if the child sings routine songs with the other children.  Group-speak is easier.
    Also, think visual.  Always have a photo handy, demonstrate, and model with visuals or physically doing what you want the child to do.  Remember that listening and learning is very important and shows progress just the way we celebrate the learning of a two-year-old who is not speaking.  We get very excited to see their understanding grow.  We need to feel the same way when we see understanding from an ELL.  Monitor receptive understanding so that progress can be documented.  Ask the child yes/no questions in the beginning.  If the child doesn't want to respond orally, use pictures for him/her to point to signaling yes or no.  When the child appears ready, ask either or questions such as "Is this yellow or green?"   Read books more than once, particularly predictable books.  I could write a book on this, but I hope I gave you some suggestions.  Lastly, value the second language.  Sing a song with the class in the child's language.  It is a gift to be bilingual.  


    Maxine LaRaus
    White Plains
    Spring Valley NY

  • 5.  RE: Working with an English Language Learner

    Posted 12-22-2018 01:56 AM
    You can find many great books for children in different languages at the Language Lizard website. is probably the best known website for teaching English learners across ages and grades - they have free webinars you can view and tip sheets and articles to give you ideas.

    You can view some amazing free and quick videos about teaching young children who are English learners on the Youtube channel for Teaching at the Beginning. 

    The TESOL organization has information you can use such as this recorded webinar on High Quality Teaching Practices for PreK and K

    or the elementary school topics on  TESOL Blog by Judie Haynes

    I hope you have the time to try some of these resources!

    Wishing you the best...

    Karen Nemeth
    Language Castle LLC
    Newtown PA