This 2-minute video gives a set of clear, but silent signals that students of all ages can understand and use to communicate without disrupting class. Differentiated learning levels exist in any classroom, but in an English language learning classroom, they can be even starker. This simple set of signs not only allows you to reinforce the English words they represent, but provide an opportunity for all students to engage and participate no matter what their level of comprehension.
All ESL/ELL teachers know that music, rhyming and repetition are important tools for helping young learners get started. Create your own visuals or movements (TPR!) for a song or rhyme, or find a Mother Goose rhyme on a topic you are teaching (example: Gardens --> "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary"). This YouTube channel is particularly good for young English language learners because the movements are exaggerated and the sounds are very clearly articulated.
Total Physical Response (TPR) has its pros and cons and you'll wear yourself out trying to keep it up for a full class period. But relying on a TPR activity to punctuate your lesson not only improves engagement (and re-engagement), but builds conversations with students even before they are able to use expressive speech in the new language. Here are 5 simple activities to fall back on when attention and energy in your ESL classroom dip.
This site has a lot of great pre-made resources, but the "Make a Worksheet" tool (available if you create a free login) allows you to build unique worksheet types for different learning styles. Use this tool to differentiate for your students who are progressing at different paces by creating shorter or longer word lists or some sheets with more pictures than others. Some worksheet types are great for fun formative assessments, as well.
Of course, much has been learned about second language learning since this article was published in 1992, but most ELL or ESL teachers have likely come up against the myths that Barry McLaughlin discusses. If you rely on immersion techniques or strive for English 100% of the time in your classroom, revisiting these myths is a worthwhile exercise as a reminder to be flexible and responsive. Reminding yourself of these myths (especially Myth #3 on page 10) will help you to think about each learner