When working with diverse student populations, particularly those with language barriers, educators must use a systematic, research-based approach. The first step is to consider what their linguistically diverse students' needs are, and, second, how best to meet those needs. One way to do this is to investigate what other districts, with proven success working with English Language Learners, have implemented.
According to the Alexandria City Public Schools, the key principles for meeting the diverse needs of their English Language Learners include:
- differentiation based on students’ language proficiency levels, interests, and learning profiles to “ensure that students learning English will comprehend and interact with core standards and related knowledge, deepening their understanding as they grow more proficient in use of the language”
- fusion of content knowledge and language support as they do not “represent a separate curriculum”
- increasing of student efficacy and enthusiasm
- high expectations through the use of higher-level thinking, reasoning, and “related habits of mind”
Monroe Public Schools (2007) identify their essential components (p. 9) when working with English Language Learners as:
- active learning
- academically challenging
- high expectations
- expert teachers
- collaborative learning
- parent involvement
As you can see, some elements overlap, such as high expectations and differentiation through strategies like active learning; these are proven essentials when working with ELLs. However, there is room for flexibility when deciding on the best approach for your unique group of English Language Learners. Taking the time to incorporate a multitude of strategies, some listed above, is the only way to find what truly works best for your students!
Alexandria City Public Schools. (2012). English language learners (ELL). Retrieved from http://www.acps.k12.va.us/curriculum/design/ell.php
Monroe Public Schools. (2007). English language learner program description and guidelines. Retrieved from http://www.cesa10.k12.wi.us/upload/document/18/ellmonroesampleservicepla...