English Language Learners, more popularly known as ELLs, are among the most prominent groups of students in the United States. As per the report published by the NCELA, 1 in 4 students in public schools with be an ELL in 2025. This pace of growth is unsurprising, given the number of benefits a person can get from being fluent in English. There is no argument about the global popularity and functionality of the language. As a result, the number of English teachers and students increases. However, learning English is not as easy as it sounds, especially to those students living in non-English countries. There are many factors to consider, as well as several challenges along the way. In this post, you’ll find tips that ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers can use to enhance ELLs’ experience.
Who are the English Language Learners?
An English Language Learner or ELL is a term used to refer to students who are non-English speakers. The ability of this group of students falls under the Limited English Proficient (LEP) category. Usually, the students are three to twenty-one years old, and they study subjects that use their primary language.
English is known as the world’s language. Hence, educational institutions from different countries have embraced the necessity of teaching the language to their people. However, teaching it to non-native speakers presents various challenges. ELLs have unique needs and abilities, and teaching them requires particular language instruction. Another problem is the limited number of ESL teachers. Thus, ESL teachers must find ways to enhance the English Language Learners’ experience.
According to English experts, an average ELL student needs at least five years to become proficient in English. In the first year, the student might show an understanding of the language. ESL teachers claim that a few years is crucial to developing proficiency and an absolute understanding of the universal language.
5 Tips to Enhance ELLs’ Experience in Classrooms
English teachers or not, educators are always looking for new ways to enhance their students’ learning experience. Of course, if there are strategic and fun teaching measures in place, students will become more interested and engaged in the lesson. To increase English teaching success, we recommend these five strategies. Dedicated ESL teachers can implement or practice these tips within a learning environment.
1. Encourage the students to participate in a peer-to-peer interaction.
When it comes to learning English or any other language, experts highlight two of the essential things needed to learn –time and practice. No matter how good ESL teachers are, no one can rush students to acquire an excellent understanding of the language. However, there are surefire tips to enhance ELLs’ experience and to accelerate the methods of English learning.
In classrooms, ESL teachers can implement structured activities. They can also establish an interaction between individual students or via groups. The students will need to use English in explaining their ideas and contributions to the activities. This strategy gives ESL teachers the chance to find out what the students have learned.
Furthermore, ESL teachers can also assess the students’ abilities to use English structures and vocabulary. If the students struggle with phrases or grammar, the teachers would be able to intercept and offer support and guidance.
2. Teach them English language structures and vocabulary in an explicit manner.
It’s undeniable that teachers play an essential role in language development. Beyond the need to learn how to write and read, teachers have the responsibility to help students learn how to use various aspects of English academic discourse. Teachers need to teach students how to understand English language functions in various forms of communication. Students must be able to know how English works in different fields and curricula.
Including in the list of tips to enhance ELLs’ experience is the determination of teachers find ways to expand the linguistic horizon. One thing is to do instructional activities that will give ELLs the chance to use new modes of self-expression. Furthermore, ESL teachers must know how to structure a classroom language. They must develop it within an environment that fosters learning. They must find ways to optimize literacy learning and to crash linguistic obstacles within the learning area. With this point, it becomes imperative for ESL teachers to understand the complexity of language structures in several content areas.
As a tip, ESL teachers can start by reviewing and analyzing a content area. They must be able to identify not only the vocabulary words that ELLs need to learn but also the other vocabulary and grammar structures that the students need to be familiar with.
3. Increase Comprehension by Determining the Students’ Background Knowledge
Learning new things is almost the same as stacking blocks. The more information you consume, the higher your blocks would be. ESL teachers must realize that ELLs have limited building blocks due to language barriers. Most of the time, they can’t even associate the lessons being taught with their lives. To increase comprehension, English teachers must dig deeper to determine the background knowledge of their students.
The KWL (know, what to know, learned) method can be an excellent starting point to accomplish the goal. Start by asking individualized questions such as “has anyone ever been to a jungle?” “What kind of things are there in the jungle?” ELLs can share what they know based on personal experiences, and the teachers can help them connect the stories to academic information.
4. Seek Help from ELL Parents to Enhance ELLs’ Experience Both at Home and in Classrooms
No matter what students are trying to learn from their teachers, it cannot be denied that seeking parental support for their learning journey is one of the most important keys to academic success. Normally, ELLs’ families are in an unfavorable position not just because of language but because of cultural values as well. Sometimes, it can be mistaken for a “lack of interest.” However, parents want nothing more than for their children to succeed. Once they feel that the teachers are determined to enhance their children’s skills, they will surely find ways to participate regardless of the existing barriers.
According to experts, open communication between ESL teachers and ELL parents plays a significant role in learning success. It is indeed challenging to speak to a parent who doesn’t speak or understand English. But, ESL teachers can surely find someone in the family who understands basic or enough English to comprehend the message. Teachers can also seek help from bilingual educators within the school. They can ask for assistance when it comes to informing ELL parents about the status or progress of their children.
5. Encourage ELL Students to Explore Writing Opportunities
Being able to write English effectively and convey the message accurately is essential for every ELL. However, most learning institutions pay more attention to math and reading skills. While those areas are equally important, it would help if students are exposed to positive writing opportunities. This method can help them develop their communication skills in the long run. Typically, ELLs feel shy to speak, and they write their learnings instead. When they think that people appreciate their writing works, they will feel confident in speaking the English language and using them in their everyday lives.
Why is the Number of ELL Students in the Boom?
Britannica Encyclopedia defined English as a language that originated in England and the widely spoken language of the United Kingdom, United States, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, Canada, and several island nations in the Pacific Ocean Caribbean Sea. English is also an official language of the Philippines, Singapore, India, and various sub-Saharan African countries, including South Africa. Approximately a third of the world’s population or some two billion person, now use English.
While English may not be the most spoken language globally, it is the global language and has become essential to communication in our present time. It is the language of science, computers, business, diplomacy, and tourism. People with knowledge in English tend to have a competitive edge in many fields. Most people today learn to speak English fluently. What does it mean to be fluent? In language, fluency means communicating with ease, effectively, quickly, and without having to pause a lot.
Being able to speak English fluently opens a lot of career opportunities. In the world of business, English is the dominant language. It has become essential for people to speak English if they want to be part of the global workforce. As the world becomes better connected, it is normal for large business industries to want to communicate more. Business organizations around the world need to know English to communicate with potential clients and customers. Thanks to ESL teachers, more and more people learn how to use the language and use it to their advantage.