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Building Bridges. A Closer Look at Today’s English Language Learners. By: Hayley Minner. Objective.

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building bridges

Building Bridges

A Closer Look at Today’s English Language Learners

By: Hayley Minner

  • All students, whether English Language Learners or not, learn best when immersed in a comfortable, non-threatening learning environment where a relationship is established between the teacher and the student
  • The majority of English Language Learners are not receiving the education they deserve. Many are forced to sit in core classrooms, where they are uncomfortably ignored and excluded because the teacher either does not have the training, or the experience, in working with this unique population.
  • A firm relationship/connection between the English Language Learner and the core teacher is nonexistent in most situations. However, to maximize learning, this bond is necessary. How can you teach a child when you don’t know their strengths and weaknesses, their likes and dislikes, their cultures and traditions or when they are not comfortable in your classroom?
background information
Background Information
  • Cristy Sanchez
  • 8th Grade at SDMS
  • 14 years old
  • Bubbly, Giggly,

Fun-loving, Happy,


  • First entered an English-speaking school on October 1, 2003
  • Cristy arrived to this area from Vera Cruz, Mexico
  • Had 6 years of formal schooling in her native language, Spanish
  • Cristy is currently taking Algebra I, Integrated Language Arts, Social Studies, Visual Arts, Physical Education, Fast Forword, and ESL
cristy s proficiency levels
Cristy’s Proficiency Levels
  • Grammatical – Low
  • Academic – Low
  • Social – Low
  • Cristy is identified as a beginner with low English Proficiency in Reading, Writing, and Speaking.
  • Cristy is an introvert when it comes to the L2 but is an extrovert in L1
  • Cristy rarely uses English to communicate only when necessary.
integrated language arts
Integrated Language Arts
  • The teacher is not educated on how to include English Language Learners in to the classroom on a daily basis.
  • Relies heavily on the ESL teacher and the Special Education Teacher for assistance
  • Realizes that she is not doing all that she should be doing for the students, but she’s doing all that she knows how to do.
  • Integrates some ELL-friendly ideas/activities:

*Regular Ed. Students reading in Spanish

*Read Aloud – stop to check for understanding

*Uses guides/charts/maps for organization of ideas

*Teacher-led instruction with examples before individual completion

*Group work/Pairs

*Extended time or exempt from some assignments

  • Currently more comfortable in class because it is instructed by a student intern.
  • He includes the ELLs in discussion and activities.
  • Offers help even with the ESL teacher present
  • Routine established
  • Greets them in Spanish – makes them feel welcome. (Although all he knows how to say is, “Hi. My birthday is…” in Spanish)
  • This small gesture, broke down a wall that was present in 2 of my students and in its place, he began “building a bridge”
what works for cristy
What Works for Cristy
  • Group work/Pairs
  • Visual Learner
  • Scaffolding
  • Integrating the native language in to instruction
  • Repetition
  • Hands-on activities
  • Constantly checking for meaning and allowing time for internalization
what can be done
What Can Be Done?

Teachers can be educated on the basic strategies for teaching English Language Learners through workshops or through information included in an

“ELL Handbook”


Brown, C. (2004) Powerful strategies for

strengthening the literacy and academic proficiency

of your ESL students. WA: Bureau of Education

and Research.

Brown, H. (2000) Principles of Language

Learning and Teaching, 4th Edition. NY: Addison

Wesley Longman, Inc.

Peregoy, S., Owen, B. (2001) Reading, writing, &

learning in ESL. NY: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.