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Support for ESL Learners

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I am currently an ESL teacher and have just recently taught a class today in which involved 6 students. The lesson topic was on using the modal “should” and “shouldn’t.” The topic was culture and customs around the world. The name of the textbook that we used was English in Mind which is published by Cambridge.

The types of learners in my class included the following four students at the four stages of language acquisition highlighted on the Teach Now website: Yoyo (Speech Emergent), Vera (Beginning Fluency), Eason (Intermediate Fluency), and Destiny (Advanced Fluency). All of the students are ELL learners. Destiny might be considered an exception in this class as she is almost perfectly bilingual (Chinese L1, English L2), though the existence of some minor, but persistent grammar errors in her academic work, means that she has to attend my English class.
During this lesson, the following strategies were undertaken for the learners:

Speech Emergent
For students like Yoyo, who need active support in their speech and to engage in role plays, special attention is given. When I introduce the flashcards, I make sure to scaffold the lesson by introducing detailed Powerpoints with pictures of the new words, parts of speech, example sentences as well extra visuals to elicit understanding and recall of vocabulary words.

Beginning Fluency
For students who are beginning to speak more confidently, I make sure to include some roleplays in my lesson and gap fills. These types of structured support help the students who are beginning to speak more. In today’s lesson, I paired up Yoyo and Vera to do a role play where one had to invite the other to her house but the catch was that they had to tell each other the rules of what they should and shouldn’t do (i.e. the rules).

Intermediate Fluency
For students like Eason, it is important to give them the opportunity to speak in an impromptu manner and also use their language ability in more of a leadership role in the classroom. For example, in today’s lesson, I chose Eason to answer some of the key questions that came before reading the main text. Also, to build Eason’s confidence, he sometimes has the responsibility of helping to translate for the lower ability students in the classroom. When I check his written work, I sometimes stress the use of connectives and transition words to make his sentences longer.

Advanced Fluency
For advanced students like Destiny, I try to incorporate cultural knowledge into the lesson to deepen these students understanding of the topic. For example, today we focused on different taboos in other countries to practice the grammar point “You shouldn’t…” We talked about how you shouldn’t give gifts made of cow leather in India or clocks as gifts in China is a bad idea as it is ominous. Such topics keep students like Destiny motivated and on task and also helps them deepen their cultural knowledge of the language.

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