Role of the Teacher
Language is an essential tool for learning. Oral language development in English differs from acquiring academic English, and involves using English within different contexts for different purposes. As a result, you should foster children’s learning and development through both direct and indirect teaching of language in a rich, stimulating environment.1
Planning learning experiences based on high expectations is important but it is not enough for English language learners.2 Intentional teaching should also include curricular enhancements and strategic use of the home language to support English language learners. Provide fun and interactive enrichment activities that extend learning for your English language learners to practice and explore new concepts and ideas, and plan hands-on opportunities to develop oral language.
Creating a Classroom Environment that Supports English Language Learners
- Learn key phrases and vocabulary in all home languages represented in the classroom.
- Instead of large group activities, plan for small group and pair activities and focused small-group interventions.3
- Color-coded labels in the classroom (one color per language, all languages represented in the classroom should be included).
- Promote family-school partnerships4 and volunteering to read and participate in the classroom.
Key Instructional Approaches
- Explicitly teach vocabulary to support concept development in English language learners. Plan for indirect and direct interactive teaching of words.5
- Teach new vocabulary through stories and using the home language strategically.
- Incorporate Total Physical Response (TPR) strategies for children to understand stories and learn new words.
- Avoid back-to-back translation during class time. Instead, use gestures, movement, realia, photographs, songs and poems to illustrate new concept or word. Read stories in the child’s home language and in English, but on different days/time of the day.
- Describe and model how to ask for help in English when children cannot solve a problem or follow an activity (e.g. math exploration activity).
- Model the use of the dictionary and teach the use of transferable strategies (e.g. cognates).
The teaching strategies below give concrete approaches for English language development in your classroom. They are designed to guide developmentally appropriate TK instruction, moving your students along a continuum of learning by bridging the Preschool Learning Foundations with the Kindergarten Common Core. Click through to view all five.
Strategy 1: Comprehension of English (Receptive English)
Strategy 2: Self-expression in English (Expressive English)
Strategy 3: Understanding and Response to English Literacy Activities
Strategy 4: Symbol, Letter and Print Knowledge in English
Strategy 5: Integrated Approaches for English Language Development and Family Engagement