What strategies are effective for building English language fluency?
From my K-6 teaching experience, the most effective way to teach English Language Learners (ELL) is to provide meaningful and authentic opportunities to learn English. ELL students need many English language opportunities to listen, speak, read, and write. These opportunities should include a variety of language experiences that will increase fluency, expand vocabulary and deepen comprehension.
Seven ways to support ELL students are highlighted below:
1. Reader’s theater improves reading fluency and comprehension. When students act out story dialogue, they are compelled to interpret the text and make it a meaningful experience. Students increase their use of vocabulary and deepen comprehension.
2. Audio books, such as those found on Big Universe, can help students improve their fluency. Students listen to an entire text with proper pronunciation. This helps students learn pronunciation and aid comprehension without having to stop reading and concentrate on individual words.
3. Drama activities encourage students to use English language appropriately. While learning a play, children are encouraged to listen to, read and practice repeating their lines before “show-time”.
4. A book club improves comprehension and vocabulary, increases fluency and builds motivation. Students are provided the opportunity to read a variety of texts and share these experiences with peers.
5. Authentic project-based learning activities strengthen a student’s skill to listen, speak, read, and write. Also, students use language to communicate and problem-solve with peers.
6. Computer games engage students while strengthening literacy skills. Many computer resources offer packages for improving vocabulary, grammar, spelling and reading skills.
7. Many literacy intervention programs integrate the skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing to give students a variety of language experiences. Earobics, Read Naturally, LLI and Fluency First are intervention programs that can meet the needs of ELL students.
How do you support your ELL students? What support do you need? Finding appropriate answers to these questions can help ELL students learn the English language quickly and succeed in all academic areas.