How to Teach ESL Students

October 29, 2023

How to Teach ESL Students

How to Teach ESL Students


Teaching reading and writing to ESL can be challenging and daunting. I remember that overwhelming feeling when new English Language Learners were placed my classroom and wondering how I could effectively cater for them within a safe learning environment.

How to Teach ESL Students


Depending where you teach, most districts do not provide the elementary classroom teacher with ESL Packets, so I created one – from assessment to reporting! The great thing is, this can also be used with most elementary students in differing ways.

How to Teach ESL Students


Here are strategies, hints and tips to help you cater for ESL newcomers in your classroom:


  1. Phonics and Word Recognition:
    • Start with a phonics assessment of course! Ascertain where your student is at in terms of English language acquisition.
  2. Vocabulary Building:
    • Use pictures, vocabulary words and other visual cues to support new learners.
    • Label objects in your classroom and provide your students with their own Reference Folder that consists of everyday language and pictures.
  3. Guided Reading:
    • Guided reading sessions with a simple targeted focus will ensure that your new students experience the empowering feeling of success. Model simple text reading and then progress to shared reading. Introduce one or two new vocabulary each time and encourage student to use the new words in oral language and in their daily writing activities.
  4. Independent Reading:
    • Provide lots of opportunities for students to read books, listen to audio books and read with a partner.
    • Encourage home reading and visual reading apps to support reading progress in the home environment.
  5. Read Alouds:
    • Whole class and shared reading opportunities is fundamentally important in the elementary classroom for ESL newcomers, as they are immersed in a language rich learning environment.

How to Teach ESL Students


  1. Model Writing:
    • Model whole class and small group writing using think alouds
    • Use visually appealing graphic organizers with picture supports
  2. Building Sentences:
    • Teach basic sentence structure by providing sentence stems and vocabulary that students can refer to
    • Encourage students to write simple sentences about topics of interest to them
  3. Writing Prompts:
  4. Editing and Revising:
    • Teach students to review their work by embedding a simple checklist on the writing template
  5. Writing Journals:
    • Provide lots of daily writing opportunities for students to experiment with their new language acquisition and efforts!
  6. Individualized Support:
    • Monitor student progress with quick and easy assessments and provide one-on-one or small group support cater for individual needs.
  7. Reporting to Parents: Provide parents with progress reports so they are aware of their child’s progress.

How to Teach ESL Students

Acquiring a new language takes time, encouragement and empowerment. Celebrate the small wins and watch your new students’ confidence and language development increase!

How to Teach ESL Students


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If you’re looking for more writing prompts with word bank and visual supports, read this blog


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Welcome to teacherinspo123...a place of inspiration, teaching tips and strategies! I am an elementary teacher who enjoys teaching and creating fun core-aligned resources that engage young learners. I love spending time with family, baking choc chip muffins and taking long walks on the beach. Read More

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