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: