Effective Teaching Strategies for English Language Learners
English Language Learners (ELLs) are a large and growing population in our country. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (2011), 11.2 million students in 2009 spoke a language other than English at home. Physical education is in a unique position to help ELLs as it has characteristics that are supportive of these students, conditions similar to those in which children acquire their first language (Clancy, M. & Hruska, B., 2005). These include:
**A review of literature shows that supporting ELL students' use of their native language actually helps them comprehend and learn English (Moughamian et al, 2009; Protheroe, N., 2011). In fact, it develops greater brain density in areas related to language, memory, and attention. Keep this in mind with your students.**
Danger of a Single Story
This is an amazing video that explains how we often send hidden messages to our students by the content we select, what and who we use as demonstrators or examples, language we use or don't use, etc.
A Class Divided
This classic video by PBS demonstrates the effects of being a minority. While very dated, it is still a great resource for educators and students. You can find the original clips along with supplemental resources here.
Terms and Definitions
- Academic Language: The words a student must know to communicate effectively about physical education content (ie. cues, skills, etc.).
- ELL (English Language Learner): A student who is the process of acquiring the English language and whose first language is not English.
- LEP (Limited English Proficient): Another term for an English Language Learner student.
- ELD (English Language Development): Classes designed to assist English Language Learners.
- SDAIE (Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English): Teaching strategies for teaching academic content to English Language Learners.
- SOIP (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol): An instructional model developed to facilitate high quality instruction for ELLs in content area teaching.
- Think Aloud: When students verbalizing their thinking to themselves while performing a skill or strategy.
- Think-Pair-Share: When students are allowed time to process a question, verbalize it to a peer, and then volunteer the answer to the class.
SDAIE Strategies (Specially Designed Academic Instruction for English)
- Metacognitive Development: Providing students with skills and vocabulary to talk about their learning (Examples: self assessments, note taking and studying techniques, and vocabulary assignments).
- Bridging: Building on previous knowledge and establishing a link between the students and the material (Examples: think-pair-share, quick-writes, and anticipatory charts).
- Schema-Building: Helping students see the relationships between various concepts (Examples: compare and contrast, jigsaw learning, peer teaching, and projects).
- Contextualization: Familiarizes unknown concepts through direct experience (Examples: demonstrations, media, manipulatives, repetition, and local opportunities).
- Text Representation: Inviting students to extend their understandings of text and apply them in a new way (Examples: student created drawings, posters, videos, and games).
- Modeling: Speaking slowly and clearly, modeling the language you want students to use, and providing samples of student work.
Assignments and Activities
Download Free Graphic Organizers
Download free templates such as structured note taking, compare/contrast, K/W/L Charts, concept maps, and much more; they can be downloaded, modified, and printed.
Additional Resources for Teaching ELLs
- 3 Strategies for Authentic Race, Class, and Gender Discussions: An article from Edutopia.
- ELL/SDAIE Strategies: A downloadable PDF with more SDAIE strategies.
- Institute of Education Sciences: This practice guide provides four recommendations that address what works for English learners during reading and content area instruction. Each recommendation includes extensive examples of activities that can be used to support students as they build the language and literacy skills needed to be successful in school.
- Larry Ferlazzo: This site posts articles that vary from instructional practices to current issues in education. In addition, he has a Best of Series page which has links to over 600 lists he has created for finding online resources on various topics. Many of these resources are on the topic of ELLs.
- Preparing for Cultural Diversity: An article by Edudemic that shares resources for teaching cultural diversity.
- UnderstandingPrejudice.org: This site has exercises and demonstrations related to prejudice.
- Why it's Time to Learn Another Language: An infographic on the benefits of bilingualism.
Resources for this Page
- Enhancing Content Literacy in Physical Education. Buell, C., & Whittaker, A. (2001). Journal Of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 72(6), 32-37.
- Developing Language Objectives for English Language Learners in Physical Education Lessons. Clancy, M. & Hruska, B. (2005). Journal of Physical Education Recreation and Dance, 76(4), 30-35.
- Teaching Secondary Physical Education to ESL Students. Glakas, B. A. (1993). Journal Of Physical Education, Recreation And Dance, 64(7), 20-24.
- Instructional Models and Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners. Moughamian, A. C., Rivera, M. O., Francis, D. J., Center on, I., & University of Houston, T. (2009). Center on Instruction.
- English Language Learners: A Policy Research Brief produced by the National Council of Teachers of English. National Council of Teachers of English (2008).
- Effective Instruction for English-Language Learners. Protheroe, N. (2011). Principal, 90(3), 26-29.