Strategies for ELL Successby: Laurie Hansen

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This article describes adaptations of the learning cycle that are appropriate for English Language Learners (ELL). It discusses ideas for teaching content and inquiry to ELL, while simultaneously helping children develop English language skills.

  • Elementary
  • Middle

A selection from Science and Children -- January 2006

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Reviews (10)
  • on Sat Dec 02, 2017 5:20 PM

I really enjoyed this article! I often think about teaching to students in the ELL program especially living in Miami, FL. I agree with including inquiry based lessons in classrooms to involve all students; keeping all students engaged and allowing them to explore independently. I've seen a lot of the strategies mentioned in the article in field classrooms I have observed such as language buddies and pre-assessments. But, I resonated with two points in the article. I do believe keeping the students encouraged and providing all students with different types of assessment (formally and informally) can benefit all students, not solely students in the ELL program.

Isis M  (Miami, FL)
Isis M (Miami, FL)

  • on Sun Nov 26, 2017 8:47 PM

This article was very resourceful. I liked how the article was organized it made it easy for me to read and follow though. The author discusses about engage and how the teacher gives the students examples of a concept making a connection to real life experiences. Explore gives the students an opportunity to be active part in the class lesson. I always knew about introducing words at the beginning, but the author here says you can introduce words in the middle. The author explains methods on how to use inquiry and gives you step by step. One in particle like was the pre-assessment how the students can work into groups on an inquiry char in pairs. You can do this instead of doing it class. This article is a great resource for you to make your science classroom exciting because the author provides the reader with great ideas that you can apply and learn from. The author is very knowledgeable about what she is talking about in the information she is talking about it applies mostly to elementary and middle age students. I do believe that some of these ideas can be use for high school if you modify some ideas into an inquiry where they can investigate something.

Jenneffer Pinto
Jenneffer Pinto

  • on Sun Nov 26, 2017 6:59 PM

I liked how the author organized the article. Engage discusses how teachers provide a demonstration of a concept by relating it to real world experiences. Explore is allow the student to experience the world around them so they are an active part of the classroom. Develop surprised me because I have always been taught that you need to introduce the vocabulary at the very beginning, not in the middle. Apply is making the connection between the real world and their experience. This reminded me of a 5E lesson because it has some very similar aspects.

Brittanie Erne
Brittanie Erne

  • on Sun Nov 26, 2017 4:33 PM

This article was incredibly insightful yet practical. The author provided several different strategies that utilized the step of inquiry and provided very specific steps for each. I really liked the tip that during preassessment, students could complete inquiry charts in buddy pairs instead of as a whole group. This idea of think-pair-share encourages students to use simple high frequency English words and illustrate pictures to express their ideas. This author knew what she was talking about as all this information is easily applicable for elementary and middle school level classrooms. I think with some simple modifications to these inquiry lessons a high school teacher could use these as jumping off points for lessons.

Vivian Del Cid
Vivian Del Cid

  • on Thu Nov 17, 2016 12:13 AM

This article is a great way to make science exciting again in your classroom. As the author give great ideas to implement to keep students engaged while learning new concepts. By giving students something they can relate back to as they make discovers by using their inquiry skills. Building on these skills through pictures and different types of writing to gain a better understanding.


  • on Tue Mar 15, 2016 6:26 PM

I loved this article because it gave me practical advice on ways that I can help my ELL students. I loved the Dell chart that it showed where you help students by providing them with basic words they would need for verbs, nouns, adjectives,adverbs, and prepositional phrases. This helps the ELL students use domain specific vocabulary. I so loved the other ideas as well. I would recommend this article to all teachers that have ELL in their classrooms.

Javaye Stubbs  (Flowery Branch, GA)
Javaye Stubbs (Flowery Branch, GA)

  • on Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:14 PM

The author provides an alphabet soup of different acronyms and strategies that can be confusing. But she also looks at steps of inquiry (even if she applies language terms to it) and provides specific strategies for each step. The ideas are things that are manageable in any lesson plan in a well-organized classroom. Her suggestion that the teacher actually take the time to determine the strategy for each stage of each inquiry lesson is common sense, but having those suggested strategies to choose from and some of them are things you might do anyway like previewing vocabulary or making a process chart is reinforcing that this IS something any teacher can do with a little bit of preparation and thought. This information is great for an elementary or middle level classroom as is. I think if a high school teacher had a level one or two ELL in their classroom several of these would provide a good starting point, as well, for lesson modifications.

Tina Harris  (Fairmount, IN)
Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN)

  • on Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:50 PM

This article not only provided helpful strategies and activities to help ELL students in your science classroom but also provided these strategies as something that you can with your entire class. I recommend for those who may need some new, fresh ideas on making science simple and fun!

Ada S
Ada S

  • on Wed Nov 30, 2016 11:27 PM

“Strategies for ELL Success” by Laurie Hansen suggests simple strategies to incorporate into inquiry science for English Language Learners (ELLs). My classroom consists of 98% English Language Learners so great teaching strategies are very necessary to effectively meet the needs of my students. Teachers of English Language Learners must use a targeted approach to help ELLs meet language needs so that they can understand the content being taught. The author believes that in order for instructional strategies to be most effective, they must be strategically fit into the learning cycle. The following strategies provide support for ELLs to become excited about concepts and motivated to learn. Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English (SDAIE) strategies help ELLs understand content while developing in the English language. They include speaking clearly and at a slower pace; using gestures and facial expressions; using concrete materials and visuals; avoiding idiomatic expressions; and using student-centered activities. The use of a language buddy who is fluent in the learner’s native language, but who can speak English fairly well can help students learning the language become more engaged in the lesson. Other strategies like cooperative groupings, previewing key concepts and vocabulary, multiple avenues of communication; and the use of technology were all very familiar and effective strategies for ELLs. A Guided Language Acquisition Design (GLAD) that I did not know about prior to reading the article, but will like to try is the Farmer in the Dell Chart. In this strategy, teacher and students create a chart and then students choose words from the chart to create sentences to sing to the tune of “Farmer in the Dell.” I like this strategy because with it ELLs are encouraged to SWRL: speak, write, read, and listen which are the domains of language that ELLs should practice every day. This article was chock full of proven strategies for teachers of ELLs. It can be a useful resource for both novice and experienced teachers of ELLs, but teachers of English proficient students can also find the teaching strategies to be useful as they make science content more accessible to every student.


  • on Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:54 PM

Using strategies that support ELL learners is always helpful. This author embeds some of them in a particle 5E approach for inquiry. She describes the Engage, Explore and then Apply approach and also incorporates strategies from the GLAD technique as well where photos help acquire language proficiency. She uses something called ‘process grids’ and provides an example of one. This is something that is unique after reading several articles about ELL learning.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

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