It can be challenging for teachers to support Bridging English Language Learners, as they appear to be very strong. However, they do sometimes still require some supports as they fully gain language acquisition.
There are a lot of things teachers can do for these kiddos, many of which we’re already doing for our native English language speakers. In fact, most of these are simply good practice!
Here are a few of my favourite things teachers can do to support Bridging English Language Learners:
USE CENTRES TO DELIVER CONTENT
Centres are often only used in lower elementary classrooms, but they can be used in so many more ways and for so many more ages!
Set up centres in your higher grade classrooms to have students access different ways to learn about one concept, or have different assignments or tasks for one concept.
Students who are Bridging English Language Learners should have few language barriers at this point. What’s more, if they do find issues with a new word, or so on, they should have strategies and tools to move past it, much like our “regular” education students. For example, they should be able to translate it or look up a definition and be able to then continue on with the assigned work.
Various centres or “stations” should not inhibit them from being able to complete or understand work. In fact, it should be just the opposite. They should now be able to read about, listen to, watch, discuss, and so on, in order to better understand the content being presented.
PROVIDE VARIOUS RESOURCES FOR A TOPIC
I touched upon this above in discussing centres. When we provide various resources connected to a single topic, students have the opportunity to learn in multiple ways. This is beneficial for multiple reasons. First, it can help them if they learn in one specific way. For example, if they learn best by watching, they’ll have the opportunity not only to read about or listen to information, but also to watch a video to help them understand the content.
Second, when students have the opportunity to examine multiple resources, it helps the information “stick” in their memory. Not only does each type of text or resource support the various ways they may learn, each time they are exposed to another resource and come across the information again, it reinforces what they already know and adds to their knowledge.
Students who are Bridging Language Learners are now ready to be exposed to these multiple resources as it helps to build different language acquisition skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking). If there is a strand they are weaker in, utilizing various texts can help build this skill as they will, ideally, already understand the content and use that knowledge to build, for example, their speaking skills.
USE BOTH MULTIMEDIA AND PRINT TEXTS
When you have Bridging Language Learners use both multimedia and print to allow them to build multiple skills. The print texts will allow them to build reading skills. Further, print allows them to re-read multiple times, go back and read slower, write and highlight directly on the text, and so on. Meanwhile, listening to audio or watching video will allow them to build listening skills. It can also help to listen to audio while reading along with a physical text. This can help students with pronunciation, fluency, and help them comprehend the text as well.
As often as you can, look to combine these resources to help benefit your students.
OFFER GRAPHS, CHARTS, TABLES, AND INFOGRAPHICS
When you provide your Bridging English language Learners with various visual resources, you allow them to interpret data and information in different ways.
Not only is this beneficial for your English language learners, it provides all of your students with the ability and chance to utilize informative visuals to help extend their knowledge and learn to decipher various forms of data.
These forms of information offer our bridging English language learners the ability to rely on both visuals and text to comprehend the content we are providing. The use of a visual can help them with any vocabulary on concepts they are still uncertain about or need further clarification on.
Additionally, they can compare strict text passages to these infographics, charts, and so on to help interpret the text, provide context to it, and understand vocabulary or other unclear aspects.
LISTEN TO PODCASTS
Listening to podcasts is one of my personal favourite things to do, so I love to find ways to incorporate it into the classroom!
Having our bridging English language learners listen to podcasts to learn and understand information is a great way to build their listening skills.
You can pick podcasts about any number of topics and with any number of hosts. This will help students better understand inflection, tone, sarcasm, and other particular parts of speech they may miss out on in social conversations or in a classroom.
Podcasts are a great way to bring in an alternative, and often overlooked, source of information. Kids can listen while reading along, complete graphic organizers before, during, and/or after listening, they can make predictions on inferences, and so on.
These are a fun and interesting way to spice up things in your classroom and increase listening skills!
What do you think? Are you doing any of these in your class already? How are they working? Let me know!
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