When Administrators Don’t Understand Needs of ELLs...

By Mary Ann Zehr — May 24, 2011 1 min read

Over at the Teacher channel, educators are giving advice to a teacher of English-language learners on how to work within constraints provided by administrators that don’t seem to show an understanding of the needs of such students.

The teacher (we don’t know if it’s a man or woman) says that he/she has been charged with correcting ELLs’ speaking skills and told at the same time to use a PowerPoint presentation and particular reading textbook. The teacher poses this question: “How does a PowerPoint lesson help students practice their English-speaking skills if I do more talking than they do, and if there are very few speaking opportunities for them?”

A couple of suggestions from readers in the forum are for the teacher to create a PowerPoint that is a game that requires students to respond verbally, or that includes open-ended questions for students.

The discussion touches on a point that I’ve heard a number of researchers in the field talk about recently, that teachers should facilitate student-to-student interaction in their classes so that ELLs have opportunities to practice using the language. But it may take some extra effort by teachers to counter more traditional approaches to education in which teachers do most of the talking in a class, and to help administrators understand what kinds of approaches are most effective with ELLs.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.