Chapter 4 - Comprehensible Input
Krashen stated that the only way we really learn anything is by receiving a message that we can understand. When working with ELLs teachers need to try a variety of things to make messages understandable to those students. One of the easiest and most often overlooked is rate and complexity of speech. Just slowing down what you say can really help second language learners. Then based on their level of development of the target language, look at the complexity of the sentence structure you are using. Next teachers need to make sure that instructions are clear for tasks or activities. If a student does not understand the directions, there is little chance of them completing the task. Finally, make sure you are using all available resources to help in the understanding of the concepts or ideas. Preview vocabulary needed before content is taught. Use visuals (pictures, videos, realia, labels) and model when appropriate. Provide repeated exposure to newly acquired vocabulary, preferably in context. Graphic organizers are another great way to gather new information in a format to help in the understanding of that information.
Chapter 5 - Strategies
This chapter discusses the use of strategies to help recall and retain information. This can be used with all learners but is especially helpful for ELLs. We need to make sure students have plenty of opportunities to use strategies both in and out of class. But before they can do this we have to make sure they know "What is a strategy?", "How do I use it?", and "When and why would I use it?". We need to explicitly teach strategies and model when they can be used. After strategies have been taught, we are still going to need to scaffold the work. Students learn in different ways and at different speeds so we need to recognize this when planning. Providing repetition and reinforcement are ways to help students process what is being taught. Think-alouds are another way of modeling that allows students to see others actively using strategies. As you scaffold you want to make sure you are promoting higher order thinking skills. Not only do we want students to learn new vocabulary and concepts, but we also want them to make connections to previously learned information and to real world experiences. We want them to move from just recalling and remembering to being able to apply, analyze and evaluate what they have learned.
Chapter 6 - Interaction
Children learn better when they can actually apply what they have learned. For ELLs, this means they need to have lots of opportunities to use the language they are learning. Providing time for students not only to hear what is being taught but to discuss it with the teacher and others will allow for elaboration of concepts and will encourage those higher order thinking skills. The grouping you provide within the classroom can support this process. After teaching something whole group, you may want to reteach the same material in a small group to provide more exposure and opportunity to process the new material. Students could then move to partner work to continue to explore the material and process and analyze what they are learning. During both whole group and small group instruction, teachers need to make sure they provide "wait time" for student responses. Because of individual differences, all children should be given time to process and think before being required to provide and answer. Students need to interact with the language across all four modes of learning - reading, writing, speaking, and listening.