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ELLs: Connecting What Students Know to What They Need to Learn


Newly arrived English Language Learners (ELLs) bring a wealth of knowledge and background experiences to a classroom.

When students connect what they currently know to what they have to learn, the transition to learning a new language is facilitated because students link the concepts together and retain the information more easily. 

In the Get Ready! program, the unit openers provide an opportunity to put this into action.

The Unit Opener includes visual context for the theme of the unit and activates students’ prior knowledge by allowing them to think of what words and images look and sound familiar.

Students may discover cognates, or words that are similar to words in their native language.

They may see images of people or objects that they’ve come across or hear words that they recognize but were never able to make a strong enough connection to be able to understand meaning.

Get Ready! shows language in action

Furthermore, Get Ready! shows language in action by including videos that showcase the featured vocabulary or concepts in a real life situation.

Learners are able to see the language in a visual context and draw on their prior knowledge. Firstly to make connections to all or part of the video content.

Ideally, they can recall experiences they have had or scenes they may have seen in person, on television or in a movie.

One way that teachers can expand on these activities is by allowing students to act out the words and concepts they have learned.

Most importantly, students can work in pairs or small groups to practice and demonstrate their understanding of the words and concepts.

They can create their own videos of language in action in programs like Flipgrid, which allows students to record themselves in a private classroom grid and respond to other students’ videos.

In conclusion, this is a fun an interactive way for students to continue to gain English proficiency while maintaining a strong foundation for language acquisition. 

Read also: Working with Comprehensible Input in the English Language Learners (ELLs) Classroom

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3 years ago

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