Most Multilingual Learners (MLs) spend the majority of their day with a classroom teacher or in a content classroom. Often these teachers are not ELD specialists. Most of the strategies that support language learning for MLs will help all students improve their academic language and content knowledge.
All learners will benefit from pictures, photographs, or other visual supports. Sometimes this means finding images before a lesson. Other times even a quick sketch is better than no visual support. For unit studies include a visual word wall with content vocabulary. Model for students how to use the visuals when they are speaking and writing. Sentence frames and stems are one way to use visuals to build language skills.
Sentence Stems and Frames
A sentence stem gives students the beginning of a sentence. A sentence frame has blanks within a sentence that a student fills in. Both sentence stems and sentence frames can be used with students of any language level depending on their complexity. Sentence frames are a great way to incorporate language learning into content lessons. For MLs at the intermediate and advanced levels use more complex sentence frames. For newcomers and beginning ELLs use simple sentence frames to model basic grammar. The newcomers and beginners should still hear the advanced sentence frames and be encouraged to try using them as well.
Combine sentence frames and picture vocabulary words to further support students with their speaking and writing.
A text set is a collection of multiple texts on the same topic. For MLs it is helpfiul to have text sets with a range of reading levels. For higher level texts read aloud or include audio versions so that students can follow along. Simplified versions of an advvanced text can be a helpful resource for students to read independently.
For students that are still learning how to decode English, also include decodable texts. These can be simple sentences or paragraphs where most of the words used are ones that follow the phonics patterns that the student has learned. It is ok to include a few content words that do not follow these patterns when necessary.
Oral Langauge Practice
MLs need opportunities to practice speaking and other oral language skills during content classes. Use choral reading to give all students the opportunity to read aloud without the stress of mispronouncing a word. Partners or small groups are good oportunities for MLs to talk about content topics. For newcomers and begining ELLs set up groups of 3 so that the student can hear a peer answer the question first. Use language supports including modeling, visuals and sentence stems during speaking activities.
Using a students native langauge can help in a number of ways. It can help to build students background knowledge and lower their affictive filter. Especially for newcomers try and find materials in their native langauge. If you have multiple students that speak the same languae allow them to sometimes work together in groups. They can discuess material in their native langaueg first and then speak or write about it in English.
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click on an Amazon link and make a purchase. This does not cost you any extra money.