Teaching Profession News in Brief

Teachers Urged to Listen to ELL Students

By Lesli A. Maxwell — November 15, 2011 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Students say teachers who want to improve their instructional skills for English-language learners should try listening to them.

Betty Smallwood, a former ESL teacher, presented a video at the annual conference of the Education Trust this month that featured ELLs from Arlington County, Va., talking about what teachers can do better. The video is part of a professional-development program devised by the Center for Applied Linguistics, in Washington, where Ms. Smallwood is a researcher.

Four middle school students, all of them beginners in learning English, said that when their teachers talk too fast, they struggle to learn. Distractions in the classroom—such as noisy classmates—are also a hindrance, they said.

They found that working with peers in small groups, or with one partner, was very helpful, a strategy that Ms. Smallwood said is supported by research.

Aeydis, a middle school student from Mexico, said teachers need to be more patient and not give up on her if she doesn’t understand the first time. Hababo, an Ethiopia native, said teachers sometimes give her too much information and confuse her about what is most important. The video only identified the students by their first names.

Elementary students also had advice. From Beza, who is also from Ethiopia: Give us more time to read what we want. And David from El Salvador said encouragement from fellow ELLs was important for his success.

They all stressed the importance of being able to talk to their teachers individually or in small groups. And teachers who take the time to define words for them during instruction are the most helpful.

Renee Bostick, the principal of Randolph Elementary in Arlington, Va., whose school has a large number of ELLs, said what helps ELLs most in her experience is having teachers who learned English as a second language themselves. She also said working with parents to help them learn English, read with their children (in any language), and use the Internet has been key to the success of ELLs.

A version of this article appeared in the November 16, 2011 edition of Education Week as Teachers Urged to Listen to ELL Students


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Teachers’ Careers Go Through Phases. They Need Support in Each
Teachers experience a dip in job satisfaction a few years into their careers.
5 min read
Vector illustration of a female teacher at her desk with her head in her hands. There are papers, stacked notebooks, and a pen on the desk and a very light photo of a blurred school hallway with bustling students walking by in the background.
Teaching Profession Download Downloadable: 5 Ways Principals Can Help With Teacher Burnout
This downloadable gives school leaders and teachers various ways to spot and treat teacher burnout.
1 min read
Silhouette of a woman with an icon of battery with low charge and icons such as a scribble line, dollar sign and lightning bolt floating around the blue background.
Teaching Profession Massages, Mammograms, and Dental Care: How One School Saves Teachers' Time
This Atlanta school offers unique onsite benefits to teachers to help them reduce stress.
3 min read
Employees learn more about health and wellness options during a mini benefits fair put on by The Lovett School in Atlanta on May 8, 2024.
Employees at the Lovett School in Atlanta meet with health benefits representatives during a mini benefits fair on May 8, 2024.
Erin Sintos for Education Week
Teaching Profession Opinion How Two Teachers Helped Me Weave a Dream
A journalist and debut book author dedicates her novel to two of her high school English teachers.
Anne Shaw Heinrich
3 min read
Image of nurturing the craft of writing.
Francis Sheehan for Education Week with N. Kurbatova / iStock / Getty