Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Planning for English Language Learners

I am currently teaching a unit on recycling. Students use English to identify trash and recyclables, ways to safely use them or dispose of them, and their effect on the community and environment. We are learning new vocabulary and reviewing current vocabulary during this unit.

Jack is a 4-year-old Spanish boy in class with sister. He is currently starting Stage III: Speech emergence, after only one year of daily English immersion lessons. He takes the initiative in conversations and speaks English with all teachers and classmates during school hours.

Sarah, is a Japanese girl who just turned 5. She recently entered Stage II: Early production. Her home language is Japanese and she uses a mixture of Japanese and English in class. She has been studying English for one year. I no longer need to prompt her to use English, and she will try to speak on her own.

Irene is five-years-old, Jack’s older sister, and has been studying English for over two years. She is between Stage III and Stage IV: Intermediate fluency. She uses more complex grammar than classmates and simulates reading by herself during story time.

Ryan is a Japanese boy, aged 5, who has recently started Stage III: Speech emergence. He makes an effort to use English when he feels he can use it to communicate his feelings. If he lacks the vocabulary he will revert to Japanese.

Jack is a quick learner who shows interest in speaking English and develops new sentences and phrases using current vocabulary. At his present stage, acquiring more vocabulary allows him to make more complex or clear statements. During this unit I will be using more flashcards for review and games to help expand student vocabulary. I am also encouraging Jack to associate new vocab with written words, and to practice reading and writing skills with those words in class during his free time or during game time. I engage Jack in tiered questioning and conversations of 3-4 exchanges in an attempt to practice the rules of grammar and etiquette, such as eye contact and pausing when another speaker is talking.

Sarah now uses simple 3-4 word sentences to relate basic ideas. I ask her yes/no questions that can also be answered with short 1-3 word responses, such as ‘Do you like candy?’ ‘Yes, I like candy.’ She is being taught to define or identify people, places, and things, which has noticeably increased her participation in group discussions. I have introduced simple books that relate text to pictures, and she is practicing retelling the main events of stories, such as ‘pig house fall down.’ She has learned how to use the classroom eBook system by herself so she can choose and listen to books spoken in English by someone other than me.

Irene has begun thinking creatively and answering more questions with reasons, like ‘because.’ She reads by herself, recalling text she has heard in class and emulating it through imagined language. This is tied into content reading during the unit, and she is encouraged to revisit texts we have read as a class during free time. I am having her focus more on self-correction of grammatical errors, and speaking to her using response stems to encourage free-thinking and problem-solving during conversations. Her writing is being expanded to include environmental print from her daily life and from her homeland.

Ryan is now using English to make original sentences, such as ‘Can I now take home this?’ Whereas before I answered his questions in English, I now request he speaks to me in English as well. He tries to make sentences by himself, and I teach him the words he is missing so he can incorporate them into his speech patterns. I ask him open-ended questions to encourage free-thinking and problem-solving skills. We are working together on spelling and syllables so that he can easily recognize and pronounce words by sounding them out.


Haynes, J. (n.d.). Stages of Second Language Acquisition. Retrieved June 15, 2016, from

Bilingual/ESLEducation. (n.d.). Retrieved June 15, 2016, from

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