Bridging English Language Learners are almost at the level they’re completely fluent in English. In fact, many native English language speakers never get to this level!
This is great, because these bridging ELL students are basically completely integrated in your classroom and can complete work quite seamlessly with their peers.
At this point, you’re bridging ELL students should be able to work independently quite easily. They shouldn’t need much more support or instructions to begin tasks than their native English speaking peers.
Being able to follow spoken and written directions with few questions will be where these kids are. At this point, the support they do need will be very similar to native English peers with few questions that are specifically language based.
Try having your bridging English language learners work independently and see what they’re able to do. This will also increase their self advocacy as they’ll need to take initiative to ask you for support if necessary.
Teaching others is an excellent way for all students to check their own knowledge and ensure what they’ve learned actually makes sense to them.
This is a strategy I have all of my students do, whether they teach what they’ve learned to a peer, a sibling, a parent, or so on.
Being able to then answer questions about what they’ve taught is another great way to ensure they fully understand the content.
Having your bridging English language learners teach others is a great way to have them focus specifically on content. They should now be able to fully access, learn, and work with the content with little to know language issues. They should be able to understand and/or learn the majority of academic and content vocabulary, just as their native English language peers do.
Having them teach others is a great way to know whether your ELL students have reached their goals.
DEBATE A TOPIC
Now that your bridging English language learners are comfortable with English (for the most part), being able to observe and understand various points of view should be something they’re able to do.
Therefore, they should be able to use taught content to understand two or more points of view in a topic. They should also be able to research and delve deeper on these points of view.
Preparing to defend and promote a certain point should be something they are comfortable with. However, even more challenging, they should be able to listen to, understand, and respond appropriately to the other side’s points and attacks.
Debating hits listening, speaking, reading, and writing strands. Plus, it’s one of the most challenging ways to hit all these outcomes. If your ELL students can successfully debate, they’ve certainly hit curriculum and language goals.
At this point, your Bridging English Language Learners should be able to conduct research on their own. They should have a solid grasp of the tools necessary for research and be able to learn more about the content areas and topics you’ve assigned.
Being able to read, watch, and/or listen to information about a topic is something these students will be comfortable with, and they should now have the ability to organize it and put it into their own words.
You can assign presentations, research papers, visual projects, and so on. Kids should be able to access and find success in these various types of assignments.
USE PRIMARILY ENGLISH
Of course, we never want to force our students to use only English, but at this point, Bridging English Language Learners can use primarily English with little to no struggle.
These students should be able to use mostly English with only some assistance from their home language. In these instances, it’s more than acceptable for them to check-in with fellow home-language peers, use a translator, or so on.
And, of course, ensure that you don’t hinder their social, or even academic talk, in their home language. This doesn’t hinder their growth in English. Rather, it supports understanding of concepts and keeps kids connected to their culture.
CONNECT THE TOPIC TO ANOTHER CONTEXT
Bridging English Language Learners are now comfortable enough using English and understanding taught concepts that they should have the ability to connect the topics being taught to other contexts.
The ability to see how taught content and specific topics are related to other contexts is something students should now be able to do. This is great for things such as writing essays, understanding historical events and current events, relating scientific concepts, and so on.
The skill in being able to connect topics is highly useful and important for academic success. Being able to do so with little confusion due to language barriers is highly important for our ELL students.
PRODUCE VARIOUS FORMS OF EXTENDED TEXTS
Finally, now that Bridging English Language Learners have little barriers in terms of language, they can produce various types of texts.
Bridging ELL students now should be able to move past producing simple or short texts. They should be able to create longer-form texts such as essays, research papers, scripts, stories, and so on.
Writing longer form texts allows for you as the teacher to better assess and hone their editing skills, ability to transition, organisational skills, and so on. Whereas we focus specifically on language and simple concepts when English Language Learners are first starting to grasp the language, we can go further and help them build more academic skills.
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