Worried about whether your EAL students are getting enough support in your lessons? With so many other students in the class, it can sometimes feel that we aren’t able to reach our EAL students and give them the help they need. It’s important to remember that a lot of very small tweaks to lesson plans and resources can go a long way to helping them access the material you are teaching.
Here are some quick tips and easy wins to help make lessons more accessible for your emerging bilinguals!
Providing your EAL students with keywords for your lesson gives them a focus and separates the key knowledge they need from the ‘noise’ of the lesson. Even if you do not have time to do this before each lesson, you can write key words on the board as they emerge, and you can even allow your students to look them up in a bilingual dictionary. This way, they can activate prior knowledge about this topic they may have already acquired in their own language.
2. Cloze exercises
Better known as ‘gap fills’, these can be used to help your EAL students complete similar thought processes to your native English speakers, without the extra challenge of writing at length. These can be created fairly easily if you are working with a chunk of text. However, if you don’t have time, ask your other students to help you! More able students can create cloze exercises very quickly by removing the most important words and creating a word bank for the EAL students to fill the spaces. This challenges your more able students while creating extra tasks for your EAL students to complete.
Using images and diagrams alongside teaching materials and resources can really help EAL students keep up with topics and discussions in lessons. It doesn’t take long to pull images from the internet to accompany virtually any topic. To use these to their full potential, make sure you refer to them throughout the lesson. Even the simple act of pointing to an image to indicate what another student is saying helps EAL students follow the trajectory of the lesson. Printing them out and using them as matching activities or vocabulary building aids in later lessons also helps them to create links between learning episodes!
Take some time to teach your EAL students how to annotate texts and diagrams. Once they have learned this skill, creating resources for them becomes much easier because the students almost do this themselves! They can annotate pages with keywords in both English and their own language, essentially creating a bank of study materials to look back on. Your more able students can assist them with this task when you are unable to.
5. Bilingual dictionaries
It may sound obvious, but making sure your student has access to a bilingual dictionary in your lesson can make a world of difference. Research emphasises the importance of students’ continued development of their own language as well as English. When students learn new concepts in English, it is vital that they can also access them in their own language too. (The use of dictionaries obviously needs to be monitored, as students might become too reliant on them or they may prove to be too much of a distraction.)
6. Get My Grades
When it comes to complicated topics that you worry your EAL students struggle to access fully in class, Get My Grades is there to offer them the space and time to grasp concepts at their own pace. Sometimes in the noise and buzz of the classroom, it can be difficult for EAL students to focus in on the key concepts. Get My Grades allows them to revisit Learn pages and test their knowledge of key components as much as they need! We also provide hover-over definitions of keywords, images to complement content, and different levels of question difficulty, so that they can adjust the learning to suit their needs.