Trying to learn IPA…

The International Phonetics Alphabet, or IPA, is a way for people to transcribe and analyze spoken language by focusing on sounds, not spelling. Understanding IPA can be helpful for language teachers, as well as adults trying to learn a new language. Because IPA is so overwhelming, I am trying to share as many resources in understanding it as I can. The link to the blog for Transparent Language has many resources.


Hacking Pronunciation in Any Language with the IPA, Part 1: Consonants


Creative Ways to Formatively Assess

One of my biggest pet peeves is hearing teachers complain about how poorly their class did on an assessment, only to also hear that they did not use formative assessments to drive their instruction. We have all been guilty of it at some point in our careers. Maybe we were a student teacher who didn’t yet see the benefit of formative assessments or maybe we felt pressure from administration to rush through parts of a unit just to “get through it.” Regardless of the reason, most teachers quickly learn that failing to formatively assess their students can have a very negative impact on their learning, because you are not meeting them where they are and not learning about their misconceptions.

The link below from Edutopia provides teachers with creative ways to formatively assess students’ learning.


Dipsticks: Efficient Ways to Check for Understanding



Math Academic Vocabulary

Math Symbols Pic

Although I love math and have always been a strong math student/teacher, the reality is that many people (teachers included!) struggle with or dislike math. The good news for ELL students is that math is a  universal language. Yes, there are cultural differences in the way math is taught, but numbers can transcend spoken and written language. The bad news is that the academic vocabulary involved in mathematics often holds people back, especially our English language learners.

This link has several articles about the importance of teaching math vocabulary and strategies for doing so.

Math Instruction for English Language Learners


One of the first challenges that I am encountering as an ELL teacher is what to do when newcomers arrive. As a third grade teacher last year, I was blessed to have twin boys from Cameroon arrive in the middle of the year. They were wonderful students and taught me so much! Here are some ideas that our fabulous ELL teacher taught me that helped them to acclimate to school culture quickly and make rapid progress in English:

  • Make the family feel welcome and comfortable by showing them around the school, helping with registration if possible and learning a few phrases in their language (Hello, How are you?)
  • Provide the students with a folder or chart with survival English phrases. Include pictures and the phrases in their native language as well.
  • Label the classroom. If the students feel comfortable, give them a picture dictionary and show them how to label the classroom.
  • Have a tub or basket with choices that the newcomers can work on independently if things become too overwhelming or there is an activity that is too strenuous when they first arrive. For example, include picture flashcards, bilingual books, easy vocabulary worksheets, picture dictionaries, etc. Teach them the appropriate way and times to use this independent work.
  • Partner the new student with another student who speaks their language to make them feel comfortable and to help translate if necessary.

As an ELL teacher this year, I am learning more about the needs of newcomer ELL’s and strategies to help them as they begin their journey toward English proficiency. Here is an article with some great suggestions:

Seven Teaching Strategies for Classroom Teachers of ELLs


A New Journey: Becoming an ESL Teacher

I am so excited to embark on the journey of becoming an ESL/ELL teacher! This has always been a dream of mine and I was pleasantly surprised to be hired as an ELL teacher this school year in Lexington, Kentucky. I have a Masters degree in Teacher Leadership/Reading and completed one course toward the ESL endorsement a couple of years ago. This will be the first time that I am working full time and in graduate school. I am nervous but looking forward to the challenge.

This blog will help me on my journey and will provide other teachers with resources, strategies and information for teaching English Language Learners.

The first link that I want to share is the English Learner Took Kit from the Department of Education. This link provides teachers with the guidelines for the legal obligations to English Language Learners under civil rights laws.

English Learner Tool Kit – US DOE