Learning to Support ELLs

You know you’re a nerd when you voluntarily complete three hours of CPE credit…before you even have your teaching certificate!

I’m finishing up my master’s degree in ESL Elementary Education, and one of the things I have LOVED the most about this degree is the depth of knowledge I’ve gained about instructing English Language Learners. This semester has focused less on ELLs, and I’ve really found myself missing that element of my program. So, when I stumbled on TEA’s Gateway Courses website and saw they had several courses having to do with ESL instruction, I immediately registered to have an account.

I worked today on a course called “Implementing the ELPS in Mathematics.” I think a lot of people have a hard time thinking about how best to support ESL or bilingual students in areas outside language arts – but, of course, it’s so crucial that these students are appropriately scaffolded in every area so they can learn grade-level standards right alongside native speakers. We have come such a long way from the days when people thought ESL students were mentally lacking, and I am so grateful for that shift in perspective, yet I recognize that we also have to insist on a high standard of education for these vulnerable students. One way that we can make some connections start to happen is by having a language objective in every subject and by thinking really critically about the ELPS and how we want to help students master them.

I really enjoyed working through this course and thinking about some specific ways to support ELLs in math. One way that especially stood out to me was to use Total Physical Response (TPR) in math to help master vocabulary. I would definitely have thought to involve kinesthetic learners in math, but I’m not sure I would have thought to take it that step farther and allow students to kinesthetically learn that all-important background vocabulary that we know is crucial. I’m definitely looking forward to implementing that in my classroom!

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