For English Language Learners (ELLs) at lower proficiency levels (e.g. Levels 1-3), they can only make meaning from key words or possibly short excerpts of text. So how do we present written information to them so they can understand? Do we have to have everything read to them or shorten it up so much that it lacks all detail? No, there's a better way!
Steps for Making Texts Accessible to ELLs
- Remember the different levels of English language proficiency? Take a look at materials provided to you such as the ESL roster at your building and the poster from Differentiating Instruction and Assessment for English Language Learners by Fairbairn & Jones-Vo. Reasonable expectations based on a student's proficiency level by sub-score (e.g. reading, writing, listening, or speaking) are explained in more detail on the poster and in the book. This will help you determine which types and how much text the ELLs in your class can comprehend.
- Collaborate with an ESL expert such as your building ESL teacher or the district ESL instructional coach. You can check not only about the levels of the ELLs in your class but also how you might best support your ELLs.
- Sometimes you'll determine that you need to provide a version of the text with additional supports or scaffolding. If that is the case, there are several different approaches. Consider the following:
- Add visuals (Actual photos with students are awesome but even clipart or icons are helpful.)
- Use laddered text sets (texts at different levels about the same concept). The K12 ESL Lending Library has some materials aligned to content areas that Ames teachers can borrow by request.
- Elaborate the text using a site like Rewordify. (See previous blog post for tips on how to maximize use.)