How to Display Words to Support ELLs

How to Display Words to Support ELLs

How to Display Words to Support ELLs

English Language Learners benefit from easy access to sight words and from seeing vocabulary words in many places. It is important to refer to word walls and other labels to help students get into the habit of using them. Here are some ways to display words around your classroom to support ELLs.

Interactive Word Walls

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Interactive word walls allow students to work with the words in some way. Often students are able to take the words off of the wall back to their seat with them. Both the teacher and students use the word wall on an ongoing basis. This helps teach students how to use the word wall and gives them practice reading and using the words.

I had a magnetic word wall in my classroom.  My chalkboard was magnetic, so I added magnetic tape to the back of sight words. Sometimes, when students asked for help finding words, I would take down two or three words and have them identify the word that they are looking for.  Then they would have the word at eye level to copy. I used gym floor tape to separate the letters.

magnetic word wall

Some other ideas for setting up a word wall is to color code the words. You can color code them by parts of speech or language level. A temporary word wall is helpful when your students are learning about a specific subject that has vocabulary words they will use multiple times. Pictures are a helpful tool to use for these new words.

Portable Word Walls

When I traveled to other classrooms, or worked with students that need fewer words to choose from, I used a portable word wall. This way I can display words and allow students to interact with them even when I am in a different room. I made from three file folders glued together. Each word was attached with velcro. Just like with my magnetic word wall, students could take the word that they wanted with them to copy.

portable word wall

Illustrated Vocabulary Words

To help students with writing, I created sets of vocabulary folders. They are made with sheet protectors in folders with brads. I have seasonal words organized by parts of speech as well. These make great posters for a seasonal writing center.

Vocabulary Folders


Lower level ELLs benefit from having labels up around the classroom. This is also beneficial for all students that are at the beginning stages of reading and writing. You can quickly make labels yourself using sentence strips, index cards or sticky notes. For a more colorful version, I have made illustrated classroom labels and labels for book categories.

classroom lables

Book labels

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