6 Ways to Help Your ESOL Student Succeed in the Classroom

A few useful tips from JBU's Asst. Professor of Teacher Education Adria Trombley

Friday, September 15, 2017

America is a melting pot of nationalities, cultures, and languages. This is no less true for the classroom. If you’re a teacher, you will likely find yourself with students whose first language is not English; you may have a student who doesn’t speak English at all. This can pose as a challenge for any teacher. After all, how are you supposed to give an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) student the individual attention they need when you have an entire class who also needs help and instruction?

I sat down with JBU’s Asst. Professor of Teacher Education Adria Trombley to help find an answer to this question. Trombley has her MED from John Brown University, and she is no stranger to helping ESOL students in the classroom. With over 12 years of public education experience, Trombley has extensive training in ESOL. Here’s a few tips she shared with me for helping your ESOL students succeed in the classroom:

  1. Google it. As simple and obvious as it sounds, don’t forget that the internet has a wealth of information to offer on educational topics. The methods for assisting ESOL students are continuously evolving, and new ideas are shared every day.  Follow blogs, search Pinterest, and use Twitter as a resource for new and trending articles.
  2. Focus on visual aids. Trombley emphasizes that “pictures are universal.” It’s easier for ESOL students to expand their English vocabulary by seeing words associated with common objects every day. Label your entire classroom. Print out “door” and place it on the door of your classroom.  Place a label that says “plant” on the fern in the windowsill. Create a vocabulary sheet of English words next to pictures that represent those words. Keep in mind that actual photographs work best; drawings or cartoon versions of objects can be confusing.
  3. Engage the other students. Being surrounded by people who do not share in their language or culture can make ESOL students feel isolated. Encourage your ESOL students to share about their cultures with the other students. Have them bring pictures or objects from home to share with the class. Furthermore, have your stronger English-speaking students help your ESOL students with their language skills. This may mean helping with in-class work, or simply conversing with ESOL students.
  4. Get the family involved. A lot of the time, ESOL students’ families are also trying to learn English. Send the student home with language exercises that he or she can do with the family. Invite parents to help you set up for parties or to visit the classroom. Attempt to learn a few basic phrases in their language. Even if you don’t say things perfectly, this will show the child’s family that you are wanting to build a relationship with them and that you value their culture and language.
  5. Don’t be afraid to converse. Teachers are sometimes hesitant to talk to an ESOL student because they’re afraid to overwhelm them. Trombley encourages conversation.  Even if they can’t understand you, they are listening. Full immersion is the best way to learn a language, and they will start to pick up more words and phrases as they listen and practice.
  6. Ask for help. Whether you need prayer or advice, don’t feel defeated by asking your fellow teachers. Chances are, they have been through a similar experience and have good insight to offer. Ask for prayer from your Christian brothers and sisters, and go to God with every frustration and praise. Most of all, pray for your students continuously, ESOL and English-speaking. God will guide you every step of the way.

The John Brown University Graduate Education faculty have extensive training and years of experience working in the field. Click here to learn more about JBU’s Graduate Education programs.

Blog HomePosted By: Jessica Turner - 9/15/17 2:00 PM

Google™ Translate: