Setting Language Goals with ELLs

Setting Language Goals with ELLs

Goal setting is helpful for students to reflect on their learning. Students can set goals at any point in the year. Setting language goals for ELLs is particularly beneficial at the beginning of the school year, at the beginning of the calendar year, and before beginning WIDA or other language testing.

For English Language Learners, setting a language goal helps them to become aware of how they are progressing in learning the English Language. This can look different depending on the student’s age and current language levels.

Use Rubrics

WIDA has rubrics for listening, speaking, reading, and writing. They are called Can Do Descriptors and are organized by grade levels. One strategy is to show students what their current language level is and have them record what their goal is for growth.

Have students highlight what their language level is on a rubric of the WIDA Can Do Descriptors. Then have them look at skills that are one level above their current level. Then they can use that information to help them set a language goal.

Right now I can _________. My goal is to ___________.

Set Small Goals

Students can also set goals based on tasks they want to learn how to complete. As part of the goal-setting process, they should think about what steps they need to take in order to complete their goal.

My goal is to _________. I need to ________ so that I can _________.

Brainstorm Steps to Reach Your Goal

After students set a goal, they can brainstorm ideas to help them reach their goal. This makes a great group activity. Students can make a list of ways to improve their reading, writing, listening, or speaking skills. This can be done through writing or drawing.

Use Graphic Organizers to Help Students Set Goals

I have a set of language goal-setting graphic organizers for the four language domains. One for reading, writing, listening and speaking to help students set goals in each area. This set also comes with examples of goals to set for each language domain for levels 1-5 and posters with simple goals and examples of ways to practice each area. There is a print and digital version available.

Use Language Objectives

One way to help students meet their language goals and to provide high-quality instruction is to set and then post language objectives. This lets students know what they are working on. You can remind them about how it relates to the goals that they are working on. If you work with groups of ELLs that are at similar language levels, then you can set a group goal. This makes it easier to frequently connect your language objective with the group’s language goals.

Colorin Colorado has additional information about using language objectives.


language goals graphic organizers digital language goals



Additional Information

Discover more information about Investing Students in their own language goals.

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