Having regular instructional routines are beneficial in many ways for our Newcomer ESL Students. According to Using a Daily Routine for Language Practice, routines help lower the affective filter (feelings of anxiety or self-consciousness) by providing structured, familiar activities in which they can easily participate.
This includes having routines for teaching foundational English skills. This month in our Secondary ESL Teacher membership program, we had Beth Vaucher of Equipping ELLs with us to talk about foundational skills and routines for our Multilingual Learners, or English Learners. She gave us an explicit routine for teaching these skills and some great tips, as well as an example ESL lesson plan to show exactly how she does it! Her tips can be used if you already have a curriculum or if you are making your own lessons from scratch.
Here are some of the highlights from our conversation. If you are interested in joining our membership and hearing more, check out more information here!
The first day should be focused on building background and connecting to the text. They can also be provided with the text in their home language if possible or provided with a short summary of the text. One of my favorite warm-ups is to provide sentence strips with the summary and have students put them together.
If you are looking for texts in Spanish, Beth recommended Unite for Literacy. There are plenty of books in English and Spanish by different categories, and some nonfiction texts are appropriate for secondary students. I also like to use Newsela's Spanish articles.
Provide your text for students with audio or read aloud for students. While students are reading along and listening to the text, they can also use provided scaffolds like images, graphs, or organizers to make meaning of the text.
On the third day, mini-lessons can be started on phonics and phonemic awareness. These can be quick 10 minute lessons with a short video and some practice. I include these in all of my Newcomer Series Lesson Plans inside our membership. You can check out a free sample ESL lesson plan here!
On the fourth day, a mini-lesson including high frequency words from the text can be introduced and last no more than 10 minutes. It's important to include these words in writing and speaking with students as well. They can do some quick Turn and Talks with sentence frames and a word bank, and then write. They can also do a Flip (Flipgrid).
On the last day, mini-lessons with grammar or sentence structure can round out the week. Then, students can interact with writing by including some of those high frequency words previously taught as well as practice with the grammar or sentence structure focus. Even just a one sentence summary would suffice!
Things to remember: these skills should be taught in conjunction with content from the text, never in isolation. This makes language learning more meaningful.
Another important thing to remember is that we need to return back to these skills frequently. Just one week will not be as impactful as if we continue to return to them week after week, whether that's in bell work, warm-ups, or exit tickets.
As high school or middle school teachers, we usually don't get the right training for teaching foundational English skills. Sometimes, it's up to us to serve our Newcomers the best we can. If you need help with your Newcomer students, send me a message and I can point you in the right direction!
If you are an elementary educator, what instructional routines do you use for your Newcomers? Comment below!
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I support middle and high school teachers through monthly lesson plans, coaching, and guest speaker offerings in our Secondary ESL Teacher Membership.