Planning for English Language Learners in the Classroom

Next semester I will be teaching English to a class of 7 students grades 2 and 3. A unit I will be teaching focuses on learning new vocabulary and the grammar skill of pronoun and verb agreement.

I am jumping – you are jumping – he is jumping – they are jumping 

Begin class with an action song: What are you doing?

Excite Interest in topic: Show some pictures or a video of people doing crazy things that the students will find funny (laughter is a great way to learn new information).

grammar-rules-subject-verb-agreement 2

I will be teaching students who all speak Korean as their first language and are at various levels of English proficiency and ability.

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Student 1: Pre-Production

Ally is a native Korean student who spent some time in Australia when she was young. She very rarely produces any language without prompting and struggles with basic pronunciation. Currently she is able to repeat vocabulary, copy written words, and communicate through gestures.

Student 2: Early Production

Austen is a native Korean speaker who has a twin sister in the class. He struggles with English while his sister excels. This has caused some self-esteem and motivation issues for him. He is able to produce short, often grammatically incorrect phrases to try and communicate his thoughts. His listening skills are decent but he has difficulty in producing language that is not first spoken by the teacher. He still exhibits some of the “parroting” tendencies from stage one.

Student 3: Speech Emergence

Emma is a native Korean speaker and is Austen’s twin sister. Emma is more comfortable with speaking than her brother, although she is sometimes scared to read new words if she isn’t sure how to say them. She is able to communicate in simple phrases and even asks questions. While her grammar is far from perfect it is significant that she tries to put together her own thoughts into English, and does not just parrot what the teacher says.

Student 4: Beginning Fluency

James is a native speaker that recently moved from Seoul. He is by far the most proficient in the class, but this can sometimes cause social tension between him and the other students. His comprehension and speaking skills are exhibited by the fact that he is able ask clarifying questions about the material. He uses longer and more accurate sentences than the other students, but still exhibits a few tendencies from the speech emergence stage.

Along with variations in English proficiency, there are also various learning styles in the class. It is important to incorporate the students’ visual, auditory, and kinesthetic needs during the lesson as well as their language needs. 

The Lesson Objectives

Consistency and routine is important for ELL and it is therefore helpful to begin each class with a clear set of objectives. From the start students will know what is expected of them throughout the lesson.

Student 1: The objectives will be numbered on the board or on a ppt, the class will repeat them after the teacher, and graphics or physical gestures will be used to communicate and insure comprehension for this student.

student 2: Ask questions about the objectives that only require a yes or no response. This student will also benefit from graphics and physical gestures.

Student 3: Ask an open ended question such as, “Emma, what is number 2?” This will require the student to find objective two and repeat it to the teacher.

student 4: Ask a more complicated question, “James, what will we do for number 3?” or “what will we need for number 2?”

New Information

The new verbs and grammar structures will be introduced to the students through a ppt presentation.The verbs as well as pronouns will each have their own graphics and examples. This stage of the lesson incorporates words and graphics for the visual learners, as well as repetition and speaking for the auditory learners. It also focuses on listening comprehension, repetition of information, and speaking.

Student 1: Each new vocabulary word will have an accompanying graphic along with the written word in English.The words will also have accompanying gestures to insure comprehension. If the concept is still unclear, it is possible to ask one of the more advanced students for the meaning in Korean.

student 2: Ask clarifying questions that only require a yes/no response such as, “Is he jumping?” This student could also be called upon to point to a picture and identify a new word.

Student 3: This student will be asked to match a new vocabulary word to a picture and say the word. With the new grammar structures the student could be asked to choose from two options for the correct answer. Questions about personal experiences could also be asked. For instance, if the new vocabulary includes the sentence “He is jumping,” the student could be asked, “Are you jumping?”

student 4: This student will be asked to make sentences of their own while still using the same grammar construct. They will be able to connect the new vocabulary and grammatical structure to previous knowledge.

Interactive Activity to Reinforce Information

Walking Dictation Activity: This activity will require the students to split up into pairs and will require them to practice their writing and reading skills. It also involves movement which will engage the kinesthetic learners in the classroom. While this activity can be turned into a competitive one if necessary, it should stress teamwork and encouragement among classmates. 

The teacher will place papers around the room (taped to the wall) with new vocabulary and sentences written on them. There will also be graphics printed along with the words for the lower level students.

The class will read all of the sentences/vocabulary together before beginning the activity.

The teacher will be present to observe the activity and offer help if it’s needed. By doing this the teacher can also pay attention to problem words or areas to include in a review lesson.

  • Each pair will receive one paper and one pencil.
  • They will take turns being the “writer” and “reader”.
  • One student will sit and write as the other finds a sentence to read and “dictate” to their partner.
  • When the pair have completed all the sentences they bring their paper to the teacher to check.
  • The pairs will read the sentences to the teacher together.

Student 1: As this learner is at such an early stage it is important for the teacher to demonstrate all of the instructions physically. By using simple language, gestures, and a demonstration the student should be able to comprehend the activity.

While some students will have no problem reading and writing out the new words, the teacher can explain that it is ok to simply tell their partner the spelling of words letter by letter. This allows the student to participate in the activity even if their speaking and reading abilities are lower than other classmates. They can also be paired with the teacher as a partner as there is an uneven number of students in the class.

student 2: This student will also benefit from the use of simple language, gestures, and a demonstration to comprehend the directions of the activity. Along with this the teacher can ask him clarifying questions that require a yes/no response, such as, “Can I do this?”

This student will also be able to spell out difficult words to his partner but simply read and dictate the words he doesn’t struggle with.

Student 3: This student will also benefit from the use of simple language, gestures, and a demonstration to comprehend the directions of the activity. However, she might also be able to demonstrate some of the rules to her classmates. The teacher can ask clarifying but open ended questions about the directions and rules to check comprehension.

Hopefully, at this level the student will not need to spell any words out letter by letter, but it is fine if she needs to.

student 4: This student will also benefit from the use of simple language, gestures, and a demonstration to comprehend the directions of the activity. However, he will also be able to participate in a demonstration of the directions. The teacher can ask him questions of comprehension that force him to interpret the directions and formulate a full explanation.

This student should have no problem with the reading, dictating, and writing without needing to spell letter by letter. However, it will need to be explained that students should help each other and be nice even if their partner doesn’t understand or know something. As this student sometimes has social issues in the class, this is especially important for him.

At the end of the activity the class will go over all the new words and sentences one more time together.

Class Conclusion

After the students complete the activity they will be asked to clean up their books and personal belongings and tidy their own area. Once completing these tasks they are allowed to line up.

Before exiting the room the teacher will ask the students comprehension questions from the lessons.

Student 1: This student will be asked a simple question that has an accompanying graphic. Or perhaps the teacher will ask the student for the physical movement that represents some of the new vocabulary.

Student 2: This student will be asked a simple yes or no question pertaining to the new class information. The teacher will have a visual cue on hand if the student needs it.

Student 3: This student will be asked an open ended question that requires response using the

Student 4: This student will be asked a question that requires him to explain, justify, agree, or disagree.


Stages of Second Language Acquisition,

What are you doing? song,




One thought on “Planning for English Language Learners in the Classroom

  1. Pingback: A Classroom Climate of Caring and Concern | learn through teaching

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