Students in your class today speak many languages. Follow these simple steps to make sure that you’re teaching them as effectively as you can.

Today’s classrooms are increasingly diverse, and some of your students may be learning English at the same time they’re trying to learn math, science, and history. Many new teachers are left to decide on their own how best to address the variety of backgrounds, languages, and experiences their students bring to the classroom. As a new teacher with little experience working with English language learners (ELL), what can you do to make sure all your students are getting the education they deserve? Here are some simple steps that you can take to meet the needs of the ELL students in your classroom.

Show you care

With any student, the first step in good teaching is building a relationship. When students know you care about their success and are willing to help them achieve it, they will be more motivated to put in the effort. ELL students are no different. Learn their hobbies, reach out to their parents in their native language when possible, and make time to meet with them before or after school. Try to make time to work with ELL students individually during class to provide supplemental instruction or clarification on assignment instructions and content.

Build cultural understanding

Keep in mind that ELL students can come from anywhere around the world, which means they represent many countries and cultures that you may not be familiar with. Too many times ELL students are excluded or feel put on the spot because of their deficiencies in English. Instead of doing this, make it your goal to learn more about the student’s culture. When they come to class, say a word in their language, or ask them about a food you tried from their culture. Trying to learn more about them will go a long way. Learning about other cultures is wonderful for your students, too. Not only will you be making headway with your ELL students, but your entire class will also be learning about tolerance and other cultures.

It is important to remember that your students are one of the best tools in your classroom.

You can take this a step further by making your mission to learn more about a culture the goal of the entire class. Have students choose a culture or country to study and present, complete with food, native dress, and music. Not only will your ELL students jump at the chance to tell their classmates more about their heritage, but they are getting a chance to practice their language skills while they do it.

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