Supporting ELL students in the classroom. Is it Language Learning or a Language Disability?


Understanding the culture of the student and having a general understanding of the differences between English and their native language is important especially when we are determining if the student has a disability and needs special education support.

Read the following document CAPELL_SPED_resource_guide and answer the following questions.

How can we support ELL students in the classroom?

How can we determine if a student that is an English Language Learner also has a disability?

What strategies can we use to support the family?

Here is a great resource from New York Department of Education.ELL LanguageAcquisitionJanetteKlingnerBrief_102114



Print Friendly, PDF & Email
, , ,
55 comments on “Supporting ELL students in the classroom. Is it Language Learning or a Language Disability?
  1. English Language Learners can be misunderstood in the classroom for a variety of reasons. Most often it is not only their language that differs from non-ELL students, but also their cultures. In order to help these students to the best of our ability we must understand not only the process of language acquisition, but also cultural differences. As far as language acquisition goes, in order to provide our ELL students with the most support we have to understand how a first languages acquisition is similar and different to a second languages. One key factor here is the “silent period.” During this period students are gaining their receptive language as well as gaining the confidence in their second language. To make these students feel comfortable you would not want to put them on the spot during this time or think that something is wrong because this is completely normal for language development. Providing a safe environment for the student to feel supported in their learning of the language rather than overwhelmed will lead to better outcomes for the student. Knowing when is too much for a student at that time in their language development can be crucial. It reminds me of how as teachers we want to teach in the zone of proximal development for our students. Not too hard, but not too easy. We do want our ELL students to be challenged, but not to the point where they are overwhelmed and shut down. Along with language acquisition comes two different types of language, conversational and school-related literacy. Conversational will come first. This is something that is important to be aware of because if a student seems to be fluent in the language conversationally this does not necessarily mean they can exit ELL services. School-related literacy fluency can take anywhere from 5-10 years to fully develop. On the other hand, this does not mean students need ELL services this entire time, but they should be supported in whatever way necessary even if they have exited the program. Something not mentioned in this article, but that I remember from the class I took on culturally diverse learners is that lessons should always have some component of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Even in a math lesson these language components should be present. This helps not only ELL students, but all students to improve their language. In addition to knowing about language acquisition, we need to also be aware of the cultures of our students. This can become especially important when making a student feel comfortable taking risks in your classroom. Not only this, but also understanding why they might be exhibiting certain behaviors.
    Learning about students cultures not only helps with the students, but also your relationships with parents. Parents are the key to understanding more about their child so you can better help them in the classroom and give them the appropriate supports. A strategy you could use is to ask parents about their traditions at home. Make them feel comfortable and acknowledge that their cultural norms may be different than your own. All of this starts with a conversation. One thing I found really interesting is that as teachers we should always advise parents to speak in their first language at home. This language is the one they are the most fluent in and therefore will expose their child to a language enriched environment. Literacy skills will transfer from a first language to a second language making which is why this is even more important. Telling parents this will not only educate them on what is best for their child, but also make them feel most comfortable that they should not feel the need to speak English at home if this is not what they would normally do. Parents provide us with crucial information about a student’s background of language and so to have a good relationship with them is important to help us learn more about our student and where they come from.
    The process to determine if an ELL also has a disability is usually done by process of elimination. It is always best to assume the problem is because of the students’ language inability until proven otherwise. You must take a hypothesis-driven approach in order to eliminate any other factors before deciding it is a disability. What I find to be the most interesting thing about ELLs being determination of disability is that even if a student comes from another country where they have significant gaps in their learning they do not qualify for services under IDEA because it is considered that the instruction they received was insufficient. In order to qualify, it must be shown that students are receiving adequate instruction and the disability is not related to their language. Teachers should be aware of tasks that are typically difficult for ELLs such as phonological awareness, distinguishing auditorily between sounds, and pronouncing words. You should be aware of certain characteristics typical of ELLs such as attention and memory problems, lack of fluency, withdrawn behavior, social and emotional problems which may be due to other issues rather than a disability. Some common things to look for to help identify these students is see if the child is exhibiting the difficulties in both first and second language, if the ELL teacher supports that this student is performing differently than their peers, if the child demonstrates very little or no academic progress after appropriate strategies and interventions are put in place, and if other people such as parents, tutors, or aids confirm that these are seen in the school setting.

  2. As diversity throughout the country grows, so do school and classroom populations. And with that growth comes multiple different languages, cultures, and beliefs that are all placed inside one classroom. Though this may sound like a difficult task at first for educators, there are many ways they can support ELL students within the classroom and school community. From the beginning, it is important to build the confidence of ELL students. If students in general have confidence, it helps them take risks in their learning which can help them develop their language acquisition skills. We can also help our ELL students build confidence by building on their prior knowledge. By talking about concepts they are aware of, they are able to participate in a conversation and build their skills. It is also important to motivate ELL students. If an ELL student loses motivation, they often no longer participate, take risks, and try to learn. By making lessons engaging and fun, they are more likely to participate. Assignments being too difficult is one way ELL students may lose motivation. By differentiating instruction into multisensory activities that are based off the ELL students english proficiency, they are more likely to participate as they feel motivated and challenged, but not like a task is too difficult. And lastly, promoting school wide acceptance of ELL students and different cultures is just as important as the things being done within the classroom with instruction and motivation. Supporting the inclusivity of different cultures and language will add a sense of normality and acceptance for ELL students and add to their confidence. It is important to note that though we are looking specifically at ELL students, these supports can be used for all students.
    When determining if an ELL student has a disability, it is important to understand that “a true disability manifests itself in all languages.” So if it is believed that an ELL student has a disability when you are teaching him in English, that suspected disability would also need to be present in his native language. When an ELL student is believed to have a disability, they go through testing similar to any non ELL student being evaluated. Teachers implement a series of instruction and interventions through RtI. After going through all three tiers, if the interventions showed little or no success or academic progression of the student, they are then referred to special education. Here, the student will take assessments and the team will collect data from both the home and the school about the student. It is important with these assessments that the student is tested in their dominant language as it will yield the most accurate information regarding the students ability. That also means that their native language may not be their dominant language due to a loss of skills such as fluency in that language. Their dominant language will be determined through a test. These assessments also need to be non discriminatory or culturally biased. By making sure this is so, the assessor is eliminating as much error as possible due to a lack of background knowledge. An ELL educator will also compare the struggles of the ELL student being evaluated to the struggles of all ELL students to see if the struggles are excessive or expected due to a limited English proficiency. Once the assessments and data from family are brought together, the IEP team will determine if there is a disability in both the native language and English. If so, the student will qualify for special education services. The student does not qualify if they didn’t have an appropriate education in reading or math or if they have limited English proficiency.
    There are also many supports for the families of ELL students. I think it is initially very important for educators to get to know the family’s culture. By doing this, they will be able to better determine the background knowledge a student may or may not have, learn more about the learning styles of the student, as well as learn the accepted behaviors and norms of the student. This will help the educator support the student fully, create engaging and relevant lessons, and also understand a students’ behaviors and actions. Along with all of this, students also always appreciate when you take the time to learn about them to better relate to their lives. It is also important that educators encourage families to speak in whatever language they are most proficient in in order to create a language rich home. As the students first language skills transfer into their second language skills, this will help the student develop their language and build their confidence. Educators also have the role of being support for families of their students. With different cultures come different beliefs regarding school and school systems. By being understanding of these different beliefs and supportive of families, it opens a line of communication and trust between the two as they work to better support the student.

  3. There are a multitude of ways that educators can support ELL students in his of her classroom. One of the most important ways that educators can support ELLs is by creating and establishing a culture in the classroom where all students feel welcomed and an integral member of the team. When educators set a foundation for this type of classroom environment, such as teaching students growth mindset, empathy, and other corresponding skills, all students feel safe. Moreover, when students feel safe, welcome, and a member of the group, they are more engaged, excited, motivated, and feel comfortable to take risks or even make mistakes. In addition to this, educators can create an environment where the student as well as their diverse culture is appreciated. In the past, I have tried to incorporate my students different cultures into different lessons when they corresponded. I would always try to find books and stories to read and allow the students to explain what some of the tricky words meant and even how to pronounce them correctly. I also participated in a project where all of the students in the second grade were invited and encouraged to share their culture with the class through dressing up, bringing in food, sharing artifacts, etc. I found this to be a very positive activity and believe that the students did a wonderful job sharing their cultures and experiences with the class. This was due to the fact that they were excited about sharing a piece of themselves with the class as well as being excited about learning about their peers differences and similarities. After this lesson, I noticed that a lot of the students were more aware, respectful, and encouraging of other’s differences and were still intrigued to learn more. Students started teaching and learning new words in other languages and were motivated to help the ELL students in any way possible. Another way educators can do this is by knowing the student’s level of proficiency in order to engage students in assignments that are appropriate and meet the needs of that individual student. It is also very important that educators provide TONS of visuals and translate. Educators can and should translate work, notes that are being sent home, reminders, updates, etc. into their native language. This allows educators to build better relationships with parents and ultimately form a partnership where each member will be able to work together to establish goals that best meet the student’s needs. Another really important piece is the vocabulary… There are so many english words that have the same or similar meanings. It can be very difficult for ELL students to understand if they do not know the corresponding vocabulary. Although I have not had much experience working with the ELL teacher at my school, I have seen him walking around the school with his students and playing a games to teach them vocabulary words. He placed vocabulary words around the school and he used pictures, the translation of the word in their native language, and the written word in english. From what I could tell as I walked by, the students were so engaged and excited for learning. They also seemed to have a pretty good understanding of the vocabulary words already.
    In terms of the determining if an ELL student also has a disability, I have had the wonderful opportunity to experience a case such as this in a pre-school classroom. We had a brand new student that had just moved into the district from Vietnam and mom only spoke Vietnamese. Initially, it was thought that he had a developmental delay and was an ELL student due to his background and prior experiences, etc. However, as the year progressed, we began to notice a lot of rigidity, repetitive moments and behaviors, some of which would negatively impact his whole day. For instance, if he came in and we had moved the centers around or the furniture, he would become very upset and angry at us. He would also try to move the objects back to their correct locations. In addition to this, he was also very bright, and knew all of his letters, colors, sounds, etc. When it came to play planing and writing out which center he was going to play in that day and what he would do, he was able to write it out. This did not come immediately but he was a lot more advanced in doing so than a lot of his typically developing peers. Eventually, I believe he was reevaluated and was diagnosed with ASD. I personally think that this experience was great to be a part of because I honestly had no idea in the beginning that the student had ASD. I thought that a lot of the behaviors that he exhibited were due to the fact that he was learning english as a second language and did not understand. However, I quickly learned that the student did understand a lot more than I had originally thought and was very bright. In fact, his language at times did hinder his understanding, ability to engage in peer interactions because others did not always know what he meant. Similar to the article, we as a team, did collect tons of data and different information, such as behaviors, skills, academic performance to be analyzed before the student did undergo diagnostic testing. Throughout this entire process, each member of the team worked together to access the student, record and document data, and engage with the student’s parent to find out more information about the student as well as take her concerns into consideration, which she had many.
    Finally, collaboration as well as supporting parents and families is such an importance piece. I truly believe that without the collaboration, trusting, positive, and respectful relationships cannot exist. These partnerships are essential for all students and allow parents, educators, and other related staff to communicate and work together to establish goals to help meet the individual needs of each student. Ultimately, providing them with resources and the means to access the curriculum to engage in meaningful learning and achieve academic success. One way that educators can communicate with parents effectively is through using translation technology, such as Class Dojo and seeing messages, reminders, and updates to the parents about the student’s progress, etc. Educators can also reach out to parents and discuss concerns about the student and ask if they have any strategies or techniques they use at home. Educators can also ask parents if they have any concerns for the student and work with them to create goals regarding those concern. In addition to this, educators can share strategies that he or she has been using with the student in class and see if it is effective for the parents at home.

  4. There are many ways to support ELL students in your classroom. One of the ways that I love and think is really effective in motivating students and making them feel welcome, is making sure that you are aware of their culture and showing interest in that as well as their language. I had a teacher in high school who let an exchange student we had from Brazil teach her Portuguese. We would have vocabulary and she would let this student teach the class what our vocab would be in Portuguese and my teacher would really try her best to learn them. Her face would always light up when my teacher used one of the words she taught her. This also is a good display of how including words in an ELL student’s native language can help them learn a word or concept. Additionally, providing visuals is a great way to help ELL students.

    Determining if a ELL student has a disability can be difficult, so it is important to gather as many sources of information about the student as possible. It is also important to collaborate with ELL teachers because they know an ELL’s abilities better than anyone and therefore it is also good to check with them to see if they confirm your determinations. When doing assessments, you want to get the results that best accurately represent the child, therefore, assessments should be provided in the language you think will provide the best results. Also, if you are making this determination because the student is struggling than the student should be struggling in all of their languages in order to make a special education determination. It is also important to see if the student responds to intervention.

    Collaboration with parents is important with any student. Therefore, it is equally important with ELL’s and can very mush be done. We are in the 20th century, google translate and other applications can be used to speak with parents. Reach out to them, let them know what is going on in the class and how their student is doing. Collaborate with them on making determinations and include them on decisions being made in the class. Encourage them and support them to let them know that it is actually a good thing when they talk to their student in their native language. Encourage them to read, work, communicate, write in any language with their child.

    • I loved reading about your teacher and how they would try to learn different Portuguese words from your classmates! That is such an awesome way to involve and engage the student and genuinely made me so happy to read! 🙂

  5. There are multiple ways that we can support ELLstudents in the classroom. One way we can support ELL students in the classroom is to provide lots of visuals to help ELL students make a connection between what they are seeing and the content. Another way that we can support ELL students in the classroom is to ultilize group or partner work by giving them an opportunity to develop their language skills while working with a peer.

    We can determine if a student who is an Engligh Language Learner also has a disability by giving them translated work in order to determine if it is the language or the content that they are having trouble with. Another way to determine if a student who is an English Language Learner also has a disiability is by giving them time to grow accustomed to and become more comfortable with the language before testing them, once again to determine if it is a difficulty with the Lantau age or the content.

    Some strategies we can use to support the families are by providing a translator at meetings. Another way that we can support the families is to provide resources for the, to use at home to help them encourage their students learning of the new language. A third way we can support the families of English Language Learners is to always be aware and respectful of their culture and where there come from! I think this is key because the more of an effort we make to acknowledge and respect their culture, the better the home-school relationship will be.

  6. How can we support ELL students in the classroom?

    Over the past two years working in Central Falls, I have gained a lot of experience and knowledge about supporting ELL students in the classroom. Learning about the students’ cultural background is the best way to start earning their respect and building up their self-confidence to remain attentive learners in the classroom. It can provide teachers with an insight about any cultural differences that may appear to be rude or disrespect like not making eye contact. Especially with many newcomers entering my school it becomes very difficult for many of them to quickly grasp the English language or respond to a written assignment. The ESL teachers in my school allow these students to write in their native language or pair up with another student from his/her native country. Another supportive resource for ELL students is providing them with a video to watch or pictures to expand their background knowledge about a given vocabulary word. Another key component to helping ELL students in the classroom is creating an environment with lots of visuals. Breaking down instructional procedures or any challenging concepts/ vocab into visuals to support their comprehension skills.
    How can we determine if a student that is an English Language Learner also has a disability?

    First, it would be helpful to begin with meeting with the student’s family and trying to gather important background information. Identifying the student’s previous educational experiences, to be aware of any difficult family or health circumstances in the past, and to make sure school records are updated. The school should have a translator or a family liaison similar to my school to help communicate with the parents. Another determining factor would be gathering the necessary data collection from observations of the student’s behavior in the classroom. Trying to detect if the behavior or learning difficulty is evident in both the student’s native language and while learning the English language. In some cases, the classroom teacher with the appropriate (RTI) Response to Intervention team could develop academic interventions to help the ELL student progress in the classroom, too. Lastly, to meet with the special educator or IEP team to discuss the progress of administering the appropriate assessments to decide if the student needs special education services.

    What strategies can we use to support the family?

    Through my observations from working at Central Falls, many parents are fearful and embarrassed about communicating with their child’s teacher because of the language barrier. Although, I think my school does an excellent job of trying to reach out to families and the Central Falls community. One strategy is organizing positive school wide events to bring families together like school dances, reading fairs, student of the month assemblies, homework info sessions, and coffee hour with the principal. Another incentive at my school is our full-time family liaison and many parent volunteers who help in the cafeteria or school events. When communicating with parents all notices sent home, report cards/comments, or updates on the school’s webpage should be translated to the appropriate home language. At my school, we have several students/families from Cape Verde and many times the notices sent home are translated in Portuguese. A free technology resource that I could use is called Talking Points to help communicate with parents that speak another language. It allows the teacher to text message the parent in English and the parent can respond in their own native language. This web and mobile app will translate the parents message into English for the teacher to read and communicate with them for free.

    I appreciate my teaching experiences in Central Falls because I’m learning new techniques of how to communicate with parents and will do so in my own classroom.

  7. There are many ways to support ELL students in the classroom. One strategy it to include visuals whenever possible to help understanding. Another is to provide group work often. This gives students an opportunity to engage in their learning from one another in a “low risk” setting, where they don’t have to feel embarrassed to say the wrong thing. When working with an ELL student in my classroom, I often let him write in his native language. I think that this gives him an opportunity to get his ideas down first, without worrying about forgetting his thoughts. After, I work with him to pick out key words and translate them into his writing. This strategy was given to me by an ELL teacher in my school. Collaboration between the two of us was crucial in the student’s success in the classroom. It is important for teachers in the general education classroom to work with the ELL teacher as much as possible to provide different strategies for learners. Often times, many strategies must be used to ensure gains in education.

    To determine if a student that is an English Language Learner also has a disability, the student should be tested in their primary language. It is important that non-discriminatory evaluation be selected to avoid racial or cultural biases. Many norm-referenced assessments are listed (p. 20-22) in the Connecticut Administrators of Programs for English Language Learners (CAPELL) resource handbook. For those who speak Spanish, the Brigance Diagnostic Assessment of Basic Skills (Spanish) can be administered up until 6th grade. This criterion referenced assessment can be used to determine if a student’s weakness is due to limited English proficiency or to a specific learning disability. Along with taking one of these tests, parent and teacher observations are crucial in gaining more information. This is important when considering if an individual who is ELL also has a disability. The recommended procedure in the CAPELL states that “because of the complexity of determining if an ELL has a disability, information should be collected from as many sources and in as many ways as possible both at school and at home. All the information together should be used to determine if a referral to special education is warranted” (p. 13).

    Supporting families with students who are ELL is vital to the success of the student. How can we do this? Some strategies may include integrating cultural traditions throughout the school and displaying maps and flags of students’ countries so when families visit the school they can see their culture is being incorporated. Another way to support families is to have good communication with parents by creating a translation process. In our school, we had a volunteer that spoke Spanish and would act as the translator during communication with families. However, this may not be possible for day to day correspondence. Establishing ways to communicate with families by using either simplified English on the phone or using Google Translate would be helpful in keeping in contact. Also, teachers should encourage parents to read to their children in their native languages. Learning language is not just learning particular words, it is about developing language and listening skills that paves the way to succeed in school. When general educators, ELL teachers, and families collaborate on communication strategies, they are helping their children become successful.

    • I love this Kelly “When working with an ELL student in my classroom, I often let him write in his native language. I think that this gives him an opportunity to get his ideas down first, without worrying about forgetting his thoughts. After, I work with him to pick out keywords and translate them into his writing. This strategy was given to me by an ELL teacher in my school.” It would be great if you shared this with the class!

      This is an exceptional response!

  8. In the general education classroom, teachers can support English Language Learners through visuals and break down directions into simpler steps. It is also important for the teacher to educate themselves on the native language of their students. Teachers can learn a few words or phrases in the student’s native language to help for a relationship between the teacher and the students. Teachers could also send home a survey or questionnaire to the student’s parents in their native language. This will help the teacher to gain some background knowledge and insight into the student’s learning.

    To determine if a student that is an English Language Learner has a disability, the student needs to be tested. The testing will need to be completed in the child’s native language to accurately represent whether or not the child has a language disability rather than just a language difference. The students level of proficiency needs to be determined in their native language.

    Many strategies can be used to support the families of English Language Learners. The teacher should first determine what language the parents are speaking at home with their child. Any paperwork or information begin sent home should be sent home in the child’s native language. If the parents need to come into the school for a meeting, a translator should be provided for the family. The families should be included in their child’s education and should feel informed at all times. Providing resources to support the family is an essential process in supporting the family.

  9. How can we support ELL students in the classroom?
    • Create labels for items around the classroom
    • Provide visuals, especially with Tier 2 vocabulary
    • Display student work
    • Encourage group work
    • Utilize graphic organizers
    • Speak clearly and naturally, rather than slowly and “dumbing down” your language
    • Create cultural events to foster community building
    How can we determine if a student that is an English Language Learner also has a disability?
    First the ELL staff needs to be involved in order to determine if the difficulties presented in the ELL student are different from other ELLs of similar background. Next, assessments and notes from both home and school should be collected in order to determine if a referral is warranted. Finally, an assessment should be given to the student in his/her native language because that will warrant more accurate results. If the ELL is dominant in that language, then a disability will present itself in all languages.
    What strategies can we use to support the family?
    Create checklists for parents to do each night with their child. For example, create a place for the child to complete his or her homework, check for homework completion, ask about the child’s day, tell stories in their native language, communicate with teachers about progress and areas of concern, find after school programs with homework help, etc. The schools can also write IEPs, permission slips, and notices in the parents’ home language.

    • I was reading though your blog comment and I really loved the idea of a culture night. I was thinking that this is a way to invite students, families and the community to school and great collaboration. During this event you could provide resources to the parents in a non threatening way and have booths set up for families to visit with bilingual translators. Different organizations (town/city, state and federal) could be provided to help parents and talk with them in a fun environment. Before the event a fly could be sent home explaining the organizations and supports that would be attending. Although it would be a lot of work (depending on how many different langues you had on your caseload) but, you could translate the flyers into their native languages. Parents could also showcase something special from their culture and share with the school and community.

  10. There are various ways that ELL students can be supported in the classroom. First, it is important to understand the current language levels of the student, this way assignments can be adapted to suit their needs. Moreover, it is always important to consider how to properly scaffold lessons for the student, as opposed to simply substituting curriculum. As far as strategies go, some simple ones like multi-lens instructions (verbal, written, physical cues) are incredibly useful. It is also important to be sure to speak clearly and avoid the use of slang and idioms. The use of idioms are one of the hardest things for ELL students to pick up on because of how much exposure to the new language it requires. In the classroom, the incorporation of technologies such as Google R&W can be helpful. This tool provides students with translations, picture dictionaries, highlighting tools, and speech to text, to name a few.

    Some key indications that a student is an ELL are if they only produce short phrases, use over-generalizations of grammatical rules, develop language in a nonlinear manner, or if they acquire concrete language before abstract language. In order to actually receive services, a home language survey is conducted and if the child speaks anything other than English as the main language at home they will be screened. If after screening, the child qualifies, they are then assessed on a yearly basis to determine the next steps. In order to determine if an ELL student also has a disability it is important to follow the RTI process. Interventions can and should be tried in the classroom first before any kind of referral. It is important to record this data because it can either help support or refute the need for a special education referral. On of the last steps before referral and after attempted interventions would be the request of a language assessment in both English and the native language if possible to determine the students levels.

    Having the family involved with any student is important. In the case of an ELL student it is vital to have family involvement in the learning process. One tip that can be given to the family is to speak whatever language they are most comfortable in at home. Proficiency in a native language often translates well to the learning of another. Furthermore, it is important to keep parents in the loop about their child’s progress during school. This will allow the family to feel supported. It is also important to provide the family with technologies or learning games that can be used at home to acquire language. this can be useful for both the student and the family.

  11. How can we support ELL students in the classroom?

    In the classroom, we can support ELL students through visuals and breaking down directions for them. I had a student in my class who was ELL and very low in both languages. He was in 7th grade but was reading at a pre-k level for English and a Kindergarten level for Spanish. We had to try a lot of different approaches with him. We did a lot of read alouds for his on level texts and we let him verbally answer when possible. We would write his answers down for him when possible because he could not spell. We would write it down on a piece of paper and then have him rewrite the answers in his notebook. We also had a set schedule with a class schedule hanging up for the class that gave the time, activity and a picture for students to refer to so they knew what was happening each day.

    How can we determine if a student that is an English Language Learner also has a disability?

    If you can look at their background and determine that they are behind not because of the lack of educational opportunity, you can use that to help get a picture of what is going on with the student. You should also test them in their native language to determine their real abilities.

    What strategies can we use to support the family?

    To support the families, communicating with them in their native language is important. I know for my ELL student, his parents only spoke Spanish so we would have are SRO officer translate on the phone for us what we needed mom to say and would have a translator in meetings so mom could understand. Sending home directions in their naive language could help the parents understand the assignment. It is important to make sure though that parents know they should not help the child complete the assignment. But allowing them to red the directions in their native language would allow them to maybe better explain to the child what they need to do. It is important to let them know that they do not need to help their child complete the assignment because they may speak broken english, which will not help the child learn correctly. It is important that we learn about their culture and are respecting their culture too. We can definitely better support them by better understanding them and their culture. If someone feels understood and listened to, they are more likely to work positively with you.

  12. How can we support ELL students in the classroom?

    First teachers need to show that they caring and motivated to help ELL students. Once the ELL student enjoys their teacher and trust them, great gains can begin to be made in their language advancement. It is also important for the teacher to educate themselves on the native language of their student, if they can begin to learn a few phrases or words of that child’s native language they can begin to form a bond and relationship with that particular student. A teacher can also send a questionnaire home to the parents in their native language to try and gain background knowledge on the student or have the parents come in for an interview and have the assistance of a translator. If it is a new student the teacher can try and work with the previous school (if the last school they attended was in the US) to gain further knowledge about the student.

    To determine if a student that is an ELL student has a disability they will need to be tested. This testing will need to be conducted in their native language a LAS test, Logramos and TONI-3 can be performed to determine their level of proficiency in their native language.

    Many strategies can be used to help support the family. Any paperwork, or announcement that goes home about their child or school assignments can be sent home in the parent’s native language. When a parent needs to come in for a parent teacher conference or if getting identified for special education services an IEP meeting a translator should be provided to help them understanding everything being said. The parent should feel very included in their child’s learning and feel as if efforts are being made to keep them as informed as possible. Providing resources and information in their native language is an essential part of this process.

  13. Within a classroom there are many things that you as a teacher can do to help benefit/support ELL students. Being a motivating teacher in my opinion is #1. You also can provide students with visual supports. I have done this in the past to help supplement readings and other kinds of lessons throughout any given day. I think this really helps set the playing field for all students. For example if you are doing a reading about turtles and someone has never been to the aquarium with their parents or seen a turtle they won’t obtain the same comprehension level as someone who has. Providing pictures really helps bridge that prior knowledge gap. It is also important to encourage acceptance of different cultures. Celebrate the cultures in your classroom and encourage them still using their native language. It is also beneficial to use a lot of group work so that ELL students can practice conversation in English with their peers.

    When determining an ELL student with a disability it can be difficult. You need to make sure you are testing in their native language as well. This rules out the question of whether they are struggle because of the language difference or really have a learning disability.

    Building relationships with the families is super important. You need to build a trusting and open relationship. Providing a translator at every meeting in crucial. Also translating any information that goes home will help with the involvement, relationship and support for families.

  14. There are multiple ways to support ELL students in the classroom. Differentiating instruction is a key element to helping support ELL students, as it creates tiered approaches to learning in the classroom and supports all students from the place they are currently at with their learning. By differentiating, the student beings to boost their own confidence as they conquer information that is still challenging but is also not impossible. This also is a positive way for students to keep pushing themselves, as they are able to meet benchmark goals on their way to a bigger goal. Another simple way to support ELL students is by repeating directions or terms multiple times. This not only helps ELL students, but also regular education students as they are able to hear the concept multiple times. Along with this, writing the directions or terms on the board gives students a visual aid and auditory aid. In doing so, more ELL students may be able to understand the concept. Along with this, teachers need to facilitate discussion among all students, including ELL students. By asking a question multiple times and then leaving a longer pause period between the question an answering, ELL students will have more time to process the information and come up with an answer. At this point, the class may be able to have a large group discussion about the topic or answer the question individually. An important aspect of teaching ELL students I learned while observing at Mount Pleasant High School in Providence, RI is to be open to the students. By showing students you (the teacher) are willing to try and learn new things or that you are open to learning some of their language, the student feels a sense of trust and may work harder because they are more open to learning from you. One final helpful way to help ELL students in the classroom is creating groups of peers. These small groups may have mostly ELL students in the group one day, while the next may be students of all different levels. Students are then able to work together to continue learning the English language while learning new skills and tactics from each other to better themselves.

    It can sometimes be very hard to determine if an English Language Learner also has a disability. This can be because ELL students sometimes struggle with the classroom material due to language interpretation, rather than a disability. It is important to keep in mind that ELL students do not master the English/ academic language for 5-7 years. To figure out if an ELL student has a disability, a variety of testing can be done. Testing must be done in the student’s native language with a professional who is qualified to give the test and is qualified in the native language. This professional will administer the test to the student, and then interpret the student’s results. Results will show if a student has a disability in their native language. If so, this disability will also be evident in the English language. In some cases, ELL students may not have a disability but rather behavioral problems, such as aggressive behavior, social and emotional problems, or even attention problems that cause the student to have a harder time in school. One important aspect to keep in mind is that sometimes students will come from countries or areas where they received little to no education. When coming to the US, the student was enrolled in school and was behind because of this. It is important to understand that just because the child is far behind, it does not mean they are qualified for special education services for a disability. The student must be placed in a consistent academic environment and show the same qualities to be looked at for a disability.

    There are many ways/ strategies to support the family. One way to support the family is by providing resources or information about resources that can help the family. These resources include things such as a mentoring program, job help or training, and events in the area. By sending this information home, teachers show they care about the students and the community. Another way to help support families is to provide a translator if necessary. In meetings, parents may not be able to understand the teacher or vice versa. By having a translator, the teacher and families can discuss the student and their needs and growth with less barriers. Finally, being open and communicating with families can also support families. Little things such as emails that are in English and Spanish, newsletters in English and Spanish, as well as spending home a daily or weekly agenda about what they class is doing/ did/ will do will help families learn the language of the school and curriculum and engage students at home with this same language. Overall, teachers should try their best to communicate and collaborate with ELL students and their families to create a successful academic environment.

  15. There are numerous factors involved that determine the language acquisition and academic performance of an ELL. To support the ELL it is important for the involved school personnel to collaborate as a team to develop strategies, differentiated instruction, and share ideas. Furthermore, this team approach can agree on timelines for appropriate action and provide any additional assessments. It is important for teachers to provide many and varied opportunities for learning, consider the ELL’s learning style, and given tasks that the ELL can successfully complete, which will in turn increase their motivation for learning. Teachers should also be respectful and cognizant of the different cultures and values that ELL’s bring with them to the school environment.
    To determine if a student that is ELL and also has a disability a referral by a parent can be made at anytime and a Planning and Placement Team(PPT) meeting will take place to address the reasons for the referral. It is very complicated to determine if an ELL is having academic difficulties because of a disability or if it’s from the language difference. Because it takes a number of years to master a second language, even more to master academic language, school personnel are sometimes too quick to refer an ELL for special education services. However, if the ELL is having behavior difficulties in both primary and secondary languages, and/or shows little or no academic gains after research based instruction and appropriate interventions (RTI), as well as conformations from parents and school staff, an ELL should be referred for special education services. I found the “Early Intervention Flowchart” on page 14 of the CAPELL provides a comprehensive 8-step procedure to confirm if a special education referral is necessary.
    In order to support the family of an ELL, school personnel should use appropriate strategies. It is necessary that school personnel establish a relationship of trust and respect for the families culture and values. Provide emails and letters home in the parents native language. When meetings occur at the school, allow the parent to invite trusted interpreters or if the parent can’t, provide one for them. If the ELL needs to be referred to special education, make every effort to show that you hold the best interest of their child in mind and can provide the necessary supports for their academic success.

  16. My first reaction to this article is thank you! This year at my school there were multiple times when we were not sure if the student was ELL, needed services, or if we were over/under identifying. The flowchart, questionnaire, and checklist are awesome tools! I have a meeting for my SPED department tomorrow and I will be bringing these resources to share with the team!

    As far as support an ELL in the classroom there are so many different tools and ideas that we can do within the classroom. Checking in with the student more frequently to check for basic understanding, to see if they have any concern, or their general feelings towards something. Differentiating the work that is given so that it is laid out in a way that allows for better understanding. Placing pictures with words around the classroom, and giving them visuals at their desk/table, for example a picture schedule. Also, working with the SLP to make sure that you are doing everything you can for them to succeed.

    Ways that teacher can determine if an ELL student also has a learning disability can be tricky. If a test is requested by a parent, then legally something needs to be done. A teacher needs to make sure that they are doing their part and be apply to keep exact data and work samples. If the student needs to be tested then the test would be completed.

    Teachers can help support families of ELL students by sending updates home to the families, keeping in contact, having frequent meetings, writing notices and etc in their native language. I also think that celebrating their native language and culture will really make the family feel valued and respected.

  17. We can best support ELL students in the classroom by gaining a stronger understanding of where they are academically and what their lives are like outside of the the classroom. Students who are learning english in school, may not be speaking english when they get home. Throughout the reading, there are many different factors that can affect how a student learns english. They are including but not limited to, their motivation and how outgoing they are, what they can and are reading, the school culture and staff as well as their own culture. A major component to supporting ELL students is getting their families involved in the community and being avid members of their child’s learning plan team. Besides that, teachers and parents will need to find where the student is struggling, whether it be academic proficiency or conversational english. This does relate more to determining whether or not the student has a disability or requires speech and language services, or in some cases, both. The better understanding of the student, their culture and abilities, the stronger the supports for the child.

    It is sometimes difficult to determine whether an ELL has a disability as well. If a parent requests that the student have testing, then that is one way to discover whether they have a disability or not. It truly begins with the learning team and teacher. The teacher goes about instruction and if they notice that the student is struggling, the teacher will make changes to the work, contact parents and document the strategy to see if it is effective of not. Putting in place interventions and properly documenting the data is important to share with other team members in order to head in the right direction in evaluating the student. As interventions are put in place, often students will improve their academic work and meetings will not be necessary, but this too requires documenting and collecting data to understand the effectiveness.

    Parents need to feel supported throughout their student’s progress at school. Interviewing a parent using the sheet in the reading is a great way to get a better understanding of where the student is coming from academically and personally. A major piece to supporting ELL parents is to be sure that documents and written in their native language and a translator is present if needed. This way, they will feel like a valued and equal partner of the learning plan team.

  18. How can we support ELL students in the classroom?
    There are many ways we can support ELL students in the classroom. Teachers should repeat the same question or phrase using different words in case ELLs don’t understand one phrase of words but understands another. Teachers should give wait time for the student to process and respond and also respect that they may not feel comfortable speaking in front of a whole class. A teacher can have a one-on-one conversation about the topic learned to ensure understanding or fix misconceptions. The classroom can display sentence starters on a poster in the classroom to provide ELLs with sentence starters. As we learned in class, ELLs need 12 to 14 exposures to a new vocabulary word in order to really understand it. Teachers can pull ELLs into small groups as much as possible to make them more comfortable to ask questions and to give them more direct instruction. Teachers can use purposeful pairing and pair with students that are above grade level in literacy during partner work. ELL students can be given an audio version of a book being read in class to help with comprehension and to give more exposure to the text. If there is an RTI program the child can be placed in these groups to give intensive instruction on a skill that’s needed.

    How can we determine if a student that is an English Language Learner also has a disability?
    It can be difficult to know if a student is struggling academically due to a disability or due to being an ELL, however, there are a few ways to tell within the classroom. If the child has a cultural peer and is performing significantly lower than this peer this could be a sign. Another is seeing little to no progress over time when appropriate instructional strategies and academic interventions are in place. A child can also be tested or evaluated in their native language. The results show whether there is a disability that it is not due to being an ELL.

    What strategies can we use to support the family?
    To support the family, if they are non-english speakers, a translator needs to be secured in order to communicate with the family. The family should be met with or called to begin a positive relationship and partnership. Once some background is known about the family appropriate resources can be shared whether these resources help with transitional funding, english acquisition, cultural events, food banks, job training, or mentor families. Another simple way to support the family is sending home student work so that they know what the student is completing in school.
    In my classroom last year a parent was afraid to speak Spanish at home with their child because they did not want to impede her English learning. As read in the article it is good for the parent to speak their native language to create a “language-enriched environment”. We explained this to the parent and followed up with the student to make sure the parent had begun communicating with their child more often.

  19. From experience, I know it is extremely difficult to decipher whether or not someone has a language disability or if it is just the student learning a different language other than his or her native language. I had this one student this year who was an ELL student. She would only come to school about 2 times a week which only made it much more difficult to teachers to teach her the content. She was born here yet spoke very little English. We only hired an L teacher about 5 months into the year. I felt bad because she did not finish any of her classes and I am not sure whether or not she had a language disability. She could have but I am not sure what was done to test her, increase her English vocabulary, etc.

    The resources in this packet were great and I am definitely going to use them in the future. I have heard of over-identification and under-identification many times before in my previous classes. However, I learned a lot from the chart they provided on pages 11 and 12. Many people mistake students who are ELL to have a language disability. However, they may not realize that it can take 5-7 years or longer to master academic language. Therefore, because the student may have academic difficulties, does not mean they have a disability. They may just not understand the content simply because they have not been exposed to enough academic vocabulary. Also, lack of fluency and correct syntax is a natural part of learning the language. Therefore, teachers need to make sure they give enough wait time for the students to answer questions. ELLs may also have attention and memory problems, withdrawn behavior, aggressive behavior, and social and emotional problems that are all related to learning a new language. Their behavior and academic progress needs to be closely monitored because a lot of the behaviors teachers are witnessing are normal for ELLs.

    To avoid under-identification, teachers need to see if students are exhibiting academic/behavioral difficulties in both first and second languages. If the ELL student displays very little or no academic progress resulting from appropriate instructional strategies then there needs to be some intervention to see if the student is eligible for special education services. Parents should also be contacted to confirm if the academic/behavior difficulties we see in the classroom mirror the behavior the parents see at home.

    Another great resource was the “Early Intervention Flowchart For ELLs.” It clearly states the steps to take when an ELL is experiencing difficulties in the classroom. If the teacher attempts a variety of strategies and the ELL does not show progress, there are approximately 7 more steps to take before the student is referred for special education services. This ensures that ELL students are not over-represented and misrepresented in special education. I would definitely use the parent interview for determining students’ language dominance and past school history to any ELL student. Also, the checklist they provide to see if special education referral is appropriate for an ELL is extremely useful. It is a challenge to determine if a student has a learning disability or is just simply learning a new language, however, these resources will surely guide all educators in the appropriate direction.

  20. We can support ELL students in the classroom through finding out what their first language is and learning about their culture and home life. Helping them better understand expectations in the classroom as well as the work can help. Having a routine and supporting them with a schedule that includes pictures and the English words for what is next on the schedule will help. Visual aides can be a great way to support ELL students in the classroom. Even if you get lower level readers that include pictures in ELA classes will help the student understand the story. Differentiated instruction is key for them.

    We can determine if a student that is an English Language Learner also has a disability through looking at their past education, culture, and their life experiences. You need to look if they were given the opportunity to an education and still struggled or if they were not given an opportunity to an education. This will help you determine if they have a disability. You also should test them in their native language when doing educational evaluations. You should look at how they are being educated. Looking at when the child began learning English would also be helpful. Looking at the educational level and literacy abilities of the parents would help as well.

    There are many strategies can we use to support the family. Offering communications in their native language will help the parents better understand what is going on when you write home or call home. This will help schools and families better communicate and collaborate with each other. Parents may be more comfortable communicating with the school if they can do it in their own native language. Offer directions in the native language when sending homework home so parents can understand the expectations of the homework, in case the student has questions. They can then maybe better explain what the child needs to do in their native language. Definitely encourage parents to stay speaking in their native language at home. Don’t force parents to try and speak only English to the student at home, let them know it’s ok to stay speaking in their native language at home. Being supportive of parents in general is very important. Getting to know them and their culture can also help.

  21. Being able to support ELL’s in the classroom is crucial to their success academically and in all aspects of school. Differentiating instruction will help the student become successful and also continuous positive reinforcement to encourage the student in their academics and social skills in the classroom can help boost their confidence and build up their abilities in the English language. Grouping ELL students with others who may have the same cultural background or students who may have received ELL services in the past can help the student relate to similar peers and work with them to succeed in the classroom.

    Even thought ELL students do not master academic language for five to seven years, a disability can be found through testing. The best way to do testing is in the students native language and have someone who is qualified to interpret the results also in the language. There are a variety of tests, especially in the Spanish language, that can test a students academic ability in reading, writing, math and other areas. Some of these tests include Aprenda, Bilingual Verbal Ability Test(available in 15 languages), Language Assessment System Link in English or Spanish, and the TONI-3. If a student showcases a disability in their native language they will also showcase that in the English language. Where is gets tough is when a student had little or no formal education in their home country. Sometimes the student may be perceived as having a disability but just has not received the right services to access a appropriate education.

    Supporting families can be key to helping an ELL student grow inside and outside of the classroom. One critical way is to have the parents speak their native language at home. If the parents try to speak English and are not proficient in it, the language and literacy skills will not improve the students English speaking ability. Teachers can also give parents information on ELL and Special education services in the the school and when possible, have the materials in their native language. The more the parents are informed, the more likely they are going to support their student in their academic experience. When possible, their should be translators at meetings that pertain to a child so the parents have knowledge of what is going on in the classroom and feel like that are a part of the team.

  22. This is such a great resource for understanding an ELL’s learning pathways. As educators we can support ELL students in the classroom by providing differentiated instruction, being a supportive and caring teacher, providing a safe environment where it is ok to fail or “fall down” academically, allowing other students to model appropriate behavior and learning strategies, and celebrating and appreciating the culture of each student in our classroom. Just by doing these simple acts we are removing multiple factors that can effect a child’s academic growth especially those who are learning a new language!

    Since literacy skills transfer from 1st language to 2nd language, one way to tell if an ELL student also has a disability is to see if the same issues are ocuring when they are speaking their 1st language. This can be difficult if no one can speak their language fluently however if you can find a translator you could see if their skills are present in the other language as well.

    It is extremely important to support any child’s family but even more so to support an ELL child’s family. I actually am working with a child who is an ELL who is going into 1st grade. The family loved the Kindergarten class and how their child was treated and even the progress she made but they did not feel connected to the class, teacher or other parents, so they moved schools. Without implementing strategies to support a child’s family we can lose a family altogether. One large strategy is to ENCOURAGE speaking in their dominant language at home! I have seen teachers tell parents that they have to speak English at home with their child and you can tell it breaks the parents hearts. This is a HUGE part of their culture and by asking them to change it is ripping that heritage out of their family. Another way to get parents involved is to have them talk about their language components in their first language. One way of doing this is having them take the survey shown in the reading.

  23. How can we support ELL students in the classroom?
    There are many ways to support ELL students in the classroom. First off, it is so important that ELL students are all treated as individuals and there needs are met on their specific needs. Many ELL students will have different paces of learning and different ways of how they are learning their new language. It is important as an educator to be accommodating of this and ensure that all students are being accounted for individually. During student teaching, I had two ELL students from China and Iran, both speaking very different langaues and handling learning English extremely differently. One student was extremely motivated and proactive in learning English, always translating when she could with a dictionary without asking for help. The other student needed translations for him and was more passive about learning English. In this case, as an educator I had to ensure that he was understanding the lessons as well as learning English along the way, which came as a challenge.
    I also think that it is extremely important to be culturally competent with ELL students. It is pivotal to talk to these students about their backgrounds and allow them to be comfortable with the fact that they are learning a new language, a language that is difficult in the first place. These students should feel no shame in making mistakes while learning English as it will only help them .

    How can we determine if a student that is an English Language Learner also has a disability?
    This can be difficult to determine and if suspected that an ELL student has a disability, it is important to take a lot of consideration while determining if this student should be provided services. ELL students often can have issues with memory as well as social issues. This is because they are having trouble communicating with others around them, which can also lead to the student becoming upset. It is important to monitor this and the educator should provide the student with opportunities to socialize with his/her peers actively in the classroom.

    What strategies can we use to support the family?
    Getting to know the families of an ELL students is extremely important. Understanding what kind of support comes from home is so key in ensuring that the student is reaching their academic and social goals. Educators should have constant communication with the families of ELL students, updating the family on the students progress. This can even include providing the family with the student’s current weaknesses and strengths so the family can support these at home. An issue that can arise here is that the parents and educator may have trouble communicating. In this case, the educator should provide a written, maybe translated copy of the students progress as well as verbally communicating with the parents.

  24. What strategies can we use to support the family?

    I believe that the best way to support English Language Learners (ELLs) in the classroom is to ensure their comfort. This needs to come from both the educator(s) and the classroom peers. Having the students understand the ELLs background prior to them entering the classroom setting will help create ease in transition. The peers have a better sense of understanding, knowing the culture of the ELL and the differences and similarities they possess. This will intern have the ELL feel a sense of ease. Through the State of Massachusetts, I had to complete an SEI course with a focus on supporting ELL students in the classroom setting. I found most strategies we learned included audio, written, and visual components. This allows for the student to have multiple means of understanding the content.

    How can we determine if a student that is an English Language Learner also has a disability?

    We can determine if a student who is an ELL has a disability by completing a series of both evaluations and observations in English and the student’s native language. This will show the evaluator if the concern comes from the student’s deficit in English, or if it is disability. Using more than one method of testing (such as multiple exams, observations, etc.) allows the TEAM to see how he or she responds to a variety of testing styles and environments.

    What strategies can we use to support the family?

    One way my district supports the families of ELL students is by having them complete home language surveys and in person meetings. This allows for the school administration, or TEAM when needed, to get a better understanding on the student’s use of language outside the school setting. They can also discuss schooling done in the native language to use as comparison.

  25. a. How can we support ELL’s in the classroom?

    There are a number of strategies that I have learned from my practicum and student teaching experiences as well as in numerous classes to support English language learners in the classroom. In order to support them academically, I learned that there is a great amount of research to indicate the important role the students’ native language plays in the development of a second language. It actually benefits students to use aspects of their native language to help them to learn English. With the implementation of aspects of the student’s native language into the development of a new language such as cognates, phonics, and other important literary techniques, students will be able to transfer knowledge from their native languages into concepts in English. This is why it is beneficial for teachers to provide students with opportunities to communicate in their native languages on a daily basis. One of the teachers I observed during practicum utilized language partners on a daily basis to provide students with these opportunities. I also learned numerous other strategies such as the sheltered learning approach, frontloading, as well as allowing them frequent collaborative opportunities to construct knowledge with their peers. As far as supporting English language learners socially and emotionally, I believe that it is crucial for their teachers to incorporate aspects of the students’ backgrounds into their lives at school. This background knowledge will include information about their cultural background, their previous school experiences if any, their language proficiency, their family and home life, and their strengths and weaknesses as a student. Teachers will need to learn all of this information so that they can work to build a personal relationship with the English Language Learners so that they can feel comfortable and mutual respect can be achieved.

    b. How can we determine if an ELL also has a disability?

    In order to determine if an English language learner has a disability it is critical for the student to be tested in both their native language as well as in English. As I also discussed above, I believe it is crucial for teachers to acquire that background knowledge about their students so they can use this information to work with the team in order to determine if the student’s difficulty is present when communicating in their native language and in English.

    c. What strategies can we use to support the family?

    In order to support the families of the English language learners in the classroom, teachers can research the various aspects of the culture at home in order to make them feel comfortable communicating with the school. This will be the foundation for building a trusting relationship with them. In order to increase parent involvement, it is also important to have a system where all items being sent home can be translated (if they wish for them to be) and that a translator is present at all team meetings.

  26. Making a child feel comfortable in the classroom is a great way to support a child in an ELL classroom. Teaching the other children about the students culture will ease the student with the transition. Also understanding that the student will go through various phases such as the “silent period” will help knowing that the student does not have a a learning disability, just absorbing the language.

    According to the ELL flowchart, the teacher needs to develop a variety of strategies to meet the needs of the student, if the student does not show any signs of improvement, the in school intervention team comes up with a plan. If the plan is still not working, there should be assessments done in both English and the students native language. The ELL staff should be included throughout the entire process. There should be several forms of data collected.

    To help support the family, the home language survey should be given. This will help the team understand the students background. Also providing a translator in their native language at every meeting will also be helpful. This will make the family feel comfortable and help their child.

  27. A great way to support ELL students in the classroom is for adults to model acceptance and appreciation of different cultures in front of the students. It teaches them to be open minded by embracing diversity and others’ ethnic backgrounds. A teacher, for example, at the beginning of the school year can spend some class time where each student is able to share their origins, fostering a sense of rapport amongst the students as they get to know each other aside from being classmates. Academically, the teacher can utilize various instructional techniques and scaffold instruction so that the student can gradually gain understanding of the concepts.

    As with any other disability determinations, it is helpful to obtain information from various sources to get an overall view of how the child is functioning developmentally and academically. The text suggests that a native language assessment is one of the valuable resources in evaluating the child’s capabilities because it is conducted in the dominant language. It helps to differentiate learning gaps based if the child has missed some schooling or if the child does have a disability.

    School systems can help support families of ELL students by providing translators to help guide them through the identification process and help bridge the language barrier by explaining different services that are being provided to their child to maximize their potential in the least restrictive setting. Parents may be very guarded during such meetings because of cultural differences so, again, it is also helpful for educators to be culturally competent and sensitive of such needs.

  28. How can we support ELL students in the classroom?

    We can support the ELL students by making them feel more comfortable in the classroom environment. You can teach the class about the child’s culture and background. Allow the students to learn more about that child and where they came from. This will help the other children understand the differences they may notice within that peer, whether it is communication, language, and/or learning style. This can help motivate the child and build their confidence in the classroom. By making accommodations throughout the classroom to better assist the ELL student, the child will feel better about coming to school each day. Partnering the child up (if they work well with peers) can also help. Providing resources in their native language can also be a big help! If you label items around the room and/or provide books translated to their native language, they may excel better in their academics.

    How can we determine if a student that is an English Language Learner also has a disability?

    A referral to special education can be made by a parent at anytime. A Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meeting must be held upon a parent’s referral for a special education evaluation. An evaluation must be provided. In order to do so, an early intervention process had to have been followed within a systematic framework such as Scientifically Researched-Based Intervention (SRBI). Also, interventions, instructional strategies, and program options implemented had been attempted but proven unsuccessful. In this case, they can move forward to the referral process for special education services. If the disability requiring special education services is due to lack of instruction in reading or math, then the child cannot be identified as a child with a disability under IDEA. Some ways to determine if an ELL student also has a disability are to recognize if the ELL is exhibiting the academic/behavioral difficulties in both first and second languages. Also, if the ELL teacher supports the position that the ELL is performing differently from his/her cultural peers and if the ELL student displays very little or no academic progress resulting from appropriate instructional strategies, alternative instruction, or academic interventions. Another is if a parent confirms the academic/behavioral difficulties seen in the school setting and the school personnel such as tutors and aides confirm the academic/behavioral difficulties seen in the classroom setting. Information should be collected from as many sources and in as many ways as possible both at school and at home. All the information together should be used to determine if a referral to special education is warranted.

    What strategies can we use to support the family?

    First you can provide the parent/guardian with a parent/caregiver interview to determine a student’s language dominance and past school history. Parents and caregivers need to feel that they are in a safe environment and that the information they are giving will only help in their child’s education. Establishing an atmosphere of trust is crucial in order to obtain accurate information from parents and caregivers. Parents/caregivers may be reluctant to answer honestly because of prior experiences in the education systems in their native countries. It is critical to explain to parents/ caregivers that if their child is identified at some point as having learning difficulties, the United States education system will support and educate their child. Obtaining as much knowledge as possible can only benefit the ELL student. By keeping a rapport with the family, they begin to trust in the education team. Keeping the parents/guardians involved in the child’s progress keeps them feeling as if they are part of the team, which they should be. Providing items such as letters and notes in their native language is also a big help.

    • You said “How can we determine if a student that is an English Language Learner also has a disability?A referral to special education can be made by a parent at anytime. A Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meeting must be held upon a parent’s referral for a special education evaluation. An evaluation must be provided.”

      This part is not true “an evaluation must be provided”. A meeting needs to be held but because a meeting is held does not mean that an evaluation must be provided. At this meeting with the parent as part of the team, there is a discussion of concerns and one of the outcomes could be an evaluation but may not be.

      In the rest of your comment, you do speak about what would be reviewed so I think you do understand the process.

  29. There are a number of things you can do to support an ELL student in a classroom. The easiest thing to do is understand that all students will learn at their own pace and it may take some students a few years longer to become more proficient in English. I really like how the document offered “A Word of Caution” to explain this in much greater detail. It gave an ideal of how it may take a student who is ELL to learn English, but also state that it may take longer. It also lists a number of characteristics which may be mistaken for a learning or behavior disability, which is important because I personally feel that this happens way too much in a public school setting and students who are ELL are mistaken for having a learning disability or behavioral problem.

    The “Word of Caution” talks about behaviors of ELL students exhibiting things like attention and memory problems, withdrawn and aggressive behavior, and also social and emotional problems. To make it easier for ELL students there are a number of things that can be done to show support. At every point the ELL staff should be involved and know the limitations for ELL students and they should be collecting as many sources as possible from school and home to decide if a referral to special education is needed.
    Ways we can determine if a English Language Learner also has a disability is to follow the Early Intervention Flowchart, or the Native-Language Assessment for students who are ELL. By following this flow chart it will be easier for an education team to determine whether or not an ELL student has a disability. I also like how in the article it states “A true disability will manifest itself in all languages that the student knows”.

    We can show support to their families by asking them the right questions and having them provide an accurate summary of their child’s education background and strengths and weaknesses.

  30. We can tell if an ELL student also has a learning disability by testing them in their primary language. We can support ELL students in the classroom by providing more visuals, fill in the blank notes, focusing on vocabulary, and modifying assignments so that they are focused on the main idea and the other information is omitted. Make it a rule in the class that they are to speak English in the classroom and may only use their primary language when given permission, for example translating something for another student.

    When possible, have an interpreter contact the family with any concerns and have them at the meetings as well. I had a long term as an ESL teacher in the middle school and luckily the ESL coordinator was typically in the building.I had many conversations with her as to how I can make material grade appropriate while simplifying it for their understanding. I had to work especially hard to gain these students respect. The first few classes I didn’t have any class participation and no one would raise their hand. This led me to share more about myself and require more writing or filling in on worksheets for the first week. After they got to know me and my expectations, they started participating and we were able to have more class discussions. At the beginning of every class, students would come in and write in their journal to answer the prompt on the board. This allowed students who didn’t feel comfortable speaking in front of the class to communicate with me and for me to get to know them and their interests. I had a selective mute in the room and this was the most communication I had with her. One of the journal questions was why did your family choose to come to the United States. This was really interesting for me and I noticed most students didn’t know and I encouraged them to go home and have a conversation with their parents about it. Most students came because their parents wanted a better education for them or they got jobs here. The ones who’s parents wanted them to receive a better education actually showed renewed interest in school.

  31. Thanks so much for sharing your personal experiences, it helps to put a face on ELLs and the difficult decisions that need to be made. I appreciate also your discussion in class as it brought up a variety of points that all need to ponder.

  32. This document from the state of Connecticut was a great read with the details it provided. The section that stood out to me the most was “A Word of Caution”. It is important to remember that learning a new language does not happen overnight. As stated in the document, “ELLs learn basic conversational language in 1-3 years, but take much longer to master academic language (5-7 years). This section is very important because it offers educators a list and explanations of characteristics of typical ELLs that could be mistaken as signs of a disability. As an educator it is crucial for us to make the right observations and referrals so that we do not set a child back in school and in life. A wrong diagnoses and overlooking characteristics such as the ones listed in this section could determine a child’s success.

    In supporting ELL students I believe we also need to be non-judgmental and open-minded to the child’s experiences. Personally, I struggle with the right choice being a bilingual parent. I am fluent in both English and Spanish because I came to the United States at the age of two and was immediately immersed in the English language and culture, but my parents continued to speak Spanish at home. I would consider English to be my first language because I feel more comfortable expressing myself in the English language although I can communicate just fine in Spanish. As a child I felt it was my job to come home and speak English to my parents so that they too could learn the language, but I know from experience that not all families accept children to speak English in their home. As a parent I did not want my child to struggle in school at a young age, so I made the decision to communicate to my daughter in English rather than Spanish. As an educator I see the hardships parents, teachers and students face when there is a language barrier and I did not want to make that the case for my daughter. It is a tough decision that I am looked down upon daily from my family, but it is what I felt best.

    In order to support families it is important to have a translator present when trying to communicate information. We can never pass judgement on a issue that we know nothing about and it is important to know what observations the family is making of the child at home. I feel this is one area in which school do not support teachers the most, which baffles me because our country is a mixed of so many different cultures. Translators are very underutilized, yet standers are held high for students and families whom they expect to “just understand”- I guess.

  33. There are many different aspects of ELL learners. As with any student, it is important not to make assumptions about what the student can and can not in the educational setting. It is important to try to get as much background information as possible in order to promote motivation and create an environment that is comfortable for the student to take risks and learn at his or her pace.

    In some settings, providing initial support for ELL learners can be difficult if there are not many staff members who can assess whether or not the student is proficient in their first language.

    One valuable resource that we have taken into account in the classroom is the interaction with peers. Often, I have found that students will open up to their peers before teachers and other adults. The interactions in social and academic settings can assist in determining what supports are needed for the learner.

    In addition to peers, the family support is crucial to success in the process. What I still have questions about is how to effectively involve parents of ELL students who are not English speaking? What can we do as educators to bridge the language barrier? Especially with parents off ELL students who also need special education.

    Perhaps we, as educators can start looking more at technology to help support families. Is there an app or a online course that would help with some of these questions?

  34. I thought this article was interesting to read after this year of teaching. With no ELL certifications or experience I was given two ELL geometry class, becoming both a math and an english teacher to my students. We can support our ELL students in many different ways. The most important part is to do our research on the student- where did they come from, what their schooling was like, if they have not lived in one place consistently, etc. Knowing all of this background knowledge will help us to know our students and know how to support them.

    As for ELL students with disabilities, I think this is where it gets interesting. In Massachusetts, if an ELL student has an IEP, the special education services trump the ELL services. While it seems a little backwards to have an ELL student with a disability in a large co-taught classroom instead of in a small ELL environment, this is what the IEP calls for, regardless of ELL status. This had me and another first year teacher questioning which is more important this past year. While we thought the student would do better surrounded by other ELL students (as the article also says) because of her IEP her guidance counselors wouldn’t move her out of a co-taught class.

    Supports for the families definitely vary based on the family. I’ve had examples where the family is very dedicated to their child’s schooling, and they reach out to the school and the teachers. I’ve also had students who’s parents don’t care too much about their child’s schooling (both ELL and not) and this is much more difficult. Adding a language and communication layer to this is also troublesome, where a simple phone call home is changed to a meeting with a translator or guidance counselor who can relay the message. To support these parents and families we need the resources to do so. If we can translate our newsletters home and even notes or emails home to parents, or even if schools can offer english classes to parents, so that it becomes a family effort and not just a student and teacher effort.

    • Great thoughts about family supports and thanks for sharing what Massachusetts does with students that are both ELL and special education.

  35. Supporting ELL students in the classroom.

    There are many different ways that we can support ELL students in the classroom. When possible make anything that is important to learning visual. For example, basic directions or classroom procedures, even vocabulary words can have a picture or mini example. Try to have a class that is more group oriented, this way students are engaged with and learning from each other. This allows ELL students to practice language more with their peers in a low-risk environment. When necessary, teachers can use sentence starters and/or pre-teach the material whenever possible (which is normally easier to do if there is more than one teacher present in the classroom).
    By reaching out to the ESL teacher, the general or special education teacher can gain more resources that pertain to a specific child. By working together and collaborating they can create a positive learning environment for their ELL students.

    English Language Learner vs, a disability.

    Determining if an ELL student has a disability seems like it could be tricky. Laura gave good insight, where a student should display a similar struggle in both their first and second language. Would an ELL student still go through the whole RTI process first before being tested for a disability? I would assume they would, or because they already have a language barrier would they jump right to testing?

    Supporting the family.

    Supporting and communicating with the family of an ELL student is very important. It is crucial to start the communication process early. One way to do this is to make sure there is a good translation process as needed. This can be with any important school work or notices that go home. Also, by providing a translator at meetings will increase parent involvement because they will feel more comfortable to speak what they feel and communicate what they need. By getting to know the family, their culture and native language, you can start to make positive connections. This will also help the family become more involved in their child’s school life.

    • Yes an ELL student would go through the same process for RTI but the ESL teacher would be part of the team to give information on how we could support the student and feedback and data to assist in determining if there are enough questions about the student’s learning in both languages that there is a need for a referral to the special education team.

  36. The article provided key factors that affect “second language acquisition and how it relates to the individual student’s learning and academic growth”. One factor that influences each key factor mentioned in the article is motivation. Motivating all students will enable them to be successful in their learning environment regardless of their language differences or learning disability. Motivation and support will help students become self-confident and lifelong learners.

    A critical key factor is developing a partnership with families. I truly believe that communication between home and school is the key to school and academic success. Reaching out to families, will develop a trusting relationship which will enable the team and the family to communicate effectively and successfully. Building a relationship with the family will promote a collaborative approach among the parents, teachers, and administrators which will enable them to be effectively involved and support the student’s learning, education, and differentiated instruction while developing and “refining their language and academic skills”. The team must encourage families to converse with their children in their first language. This will create a “language-enriched environment” and will establish a foundation to enable the student to become proficient in their second language. While reading the article, I was unaware of all the valuable resources that are available to support school personal and families. The team will be able to recommend or refer a family for additional support, guidance, or assistance. In regards to an ELL teacher, how does the ELL teacher collaborate with the team and classroom teacher?

    While reading the article, a few questions arose.
    How can we determine whether an ELL (English Language Learner) is unable to effectively communicate due to a language barrier or a language impairment due to a disability? How can I determine if the student is proficient in their first language to determine progress in their second language? How can I determine delays in the student’s first language if it is a language I am not fluent in? How do I determine the appropriate future placement for ELL students?

  37. A child should be tested in their first language to see if there is a disability. Determining if a child has a disability when testing is not done in their first language will not provide accurate assessment of their needs. Without accurate data it is not possible to devise an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) for the student.

    “As noted in the flowchart, a native-language assessment is often desirable at a certain point in the process. The school must ensure that the evaluations are in the language most likely to yield accurate information on what the child knows and can do academically, developmentally, and functionally, unless it is clearly not feasible to provide or administer. It is important to keep in mind, however, that an ELL may have lost some proficiency in the native language if he/she has not been learning academics through that language. In fact, some ELLs, especially those born in this country may only have oral skills in their native language because they began their schooling in English. However, if it is found that the ELL is dominant in the native language, any further testing to determine if the student has a disability will yield more accurate results if administered in the dominant language. A true disability will manifest itself in all languages that the student knows.” (p. 13

    Tests that are good for ELLs: (p. 20-21)
    “The Logramos is a Spanish achievement test for math, language, reading comprehension, word analysis, vocabulary, and listening comprehension. Spanish dominant students from kindergarten through 12th grade can be given the test to determine their native language proficiency and to help with their instruction. Logramos is a group administered assessment available through Riverside Publishing.”
    “Available through Pearson, the TONI-3 is a language-free assessment of nonverbal intelligence and reasoning abilities. A culturally-reduced test, it is a measure of problem solving, abstract reasoning intelligence, and aptitude that does not require reading, writing, speaking, or listening. It is appropriate for those who have or are believed to have disorders of communication or thinking such as language disability, stroke, disease, head injury, or other neurological impairment. Responses simply require an individual to nod, point, or give a symbolic gesture to indicate a response.”

    In addition the school department must not depend solely on one test to determine if special education services are needed. This is the same as a student with English as a first language. There are many factors, assessments, tests and tiers (RTI) that a student needs to go through first.

    For ELL students as stated in the article: “It is important to remember that tests normed solely on native English-speaking students have limited validity for ELLs and must be viewed in that light. Using more than one measure or assessment to determine whether a child has a disability and to determine an appropriate educational program is required. Tests are only one source of information, and therefore, it is required to gather evidence from multiple sources (such as past educational history, teacher input, etc.) as noted earlier in this guide.” (p. 20)

    Supporting the ELL student in the classroom is not easy. It is essential that there is collaboration and planning time for the ELL teacher, regular education teacher and special education teacher (if the student has one).

    An example of a support system in the classroom is a Chromebook. In West Warwick they have the Chromebook initiative where every student has a Chromebook. A great feature is that documents, texts and other reading materials can be translated into many language thus allowing students to read in their first language. In addition the student can write in their first language and then the teacher can change the document to English to assess their work. This should gradually be phased out but for an incoming ELL student, I feel this is invaluable. I have seen this done successfully in the classroom with two students from Portugal and both the regular education teacher and the ELL teacher stated that it helped tremendously.

    This technology can also support the family because all documents can be translated on the Chromebook; hence allowing families to read in their first language which is essential. If I image myself going to a new country I know that this support would help me and ease my anxiety in a new country.

    In addition the school district and parents should go to the RIDE website for rules and regulations for ELL students.

    Providing a translator is also very important.

  38. I really enjoyed looking at the different factors of language learning that the document listed towards the beginning. All of these factors are so important to keep in mind, especially for a teacher trying to distinguish if a student has a learning or language disability, or is simply trying to tackle a new language. Any type of disability the student may have should show in both languages, not just the L2. This means that a quiet child who doesn’t say much in class and seems to struggle to read and write in English may have a disability, but may also simply be a student who doesn’t like to take risks and make mistakes with his/her L2, and is just trying to learn English. Any assessment that can be done in the child’s L1 and L2 can give the team more information about whether they only need ESL services, or special education services. I liked Connecticut’s home language survey. Rhode Island’s is tiny, and doesn’t give nearly the information, from my experience.
    Supporting English Language Learners requires several things. The first, of course, would be knowing the students, their L1, and their families. Being able to practice culturally competent teaching can increase student confidence in the classroom. ELLs who feel safe in the classroom are more likely to take risks and practice their L2 more often. Using visuals, and teaming students strategically can also increase ELLs’ success in the classroom. Most importantly, teachers need to recognize that learning a second language takes time, and they need to be understanding of the time and risks that learning English involves, and they need to create a classroom where it is safe to do so.
    Including the families is a big part of ELL success in school. Primarily, families need to feel included and encouraged to participate in school events. They need to feel like their language is valued and important. Too often, at my school, our Spanish families view their home language as a detriment to their children’s education and learning. They usually feel this way until someone makes it a point to sit down with them and explain the process of learning languages. Schools need to make sure that families know how important the L1 is to a child’s development of literacy. The stronger the child is in his/her L1, the easier it will be for them to learn a second language, and become literate in both. Providing opportunities for ELLs to share their culture and language goes a long way towards boosting confidence and helps them to value their own background and language.

  39. This is a topic that I am well aware with because I can say that I was an ELL student. I was born in the United States, but when I was a baby my grandma or in Greek “Ya Ya” raised me in the infancy stage. She only spoke to me in Greek for the first crucial years of my life as I was learning language. By the time I entered schooling my teachers realized I had a problem since I could not speak a word of English. I had to be placed in a full time ESL class in which it took me at least a year to learn the English language. For a good portion of the time I can remember not talking to anybody, as I was trying to master the language. The only thing I regret is that being exposed to only the English language at school and by my teacher’s insistence at home, I lost a lot of my first language skills. Today I can speak Greek but if you were to ask me to write in Greek I can’t. When I graduated from the University of Rhode Island I went on to Rhode Island College and I received a content area certificate in ELL.
    The questions that were posed, and the article that you left for us on the link was excellent. The State of Connecticut is very detailed with their strategies on how to engage ELL families and identify students who may have not only an ELL issue, but also a special education issue.
    So how can we support ELL students in the classroom? The answer to that question would be to understand that the student is trying to learn the new language so if they are not talking, understand that they are processing the new language and it might take some time until they choose to talk which is quite normal. Secondly, an ELL student will often communicate with their peers much more easily than completing academic assignments, which takes much more time due to the increased demands on reading and writing in the English language. If you observe that the student is having difficulty speaking to peers, then it might not be just a language issue but could also be a warning signal that it may be a disability. Furthermore, the ESL teacher is the expert so the special education teacher or content area teacher should collaborate and speak to that person in order to determine if the student may have not only an ELL issue but also a special education issue. Furthermore, if I were a teacher of an ELL student I would give them more time to complete tasks because they are at a disadvantage to the native speakers who will probably be able to complete the task much quicker. Remember the ELL student is trying to understand the assignment and interpret it, and then complete it, which takes much more time. To determine if an ELL student has a disability a special education teacher should work with the ESL teacher who is the expert. Furthermore, speaking to the parent will also help to determine if the child is having problems at home too, but it is important to be culturally aware that a parent may not trust the educator due to bad past experiences. Try to be as welcoming as possible. Testing can also determine if an ELL student might have a disability. I liked Bilingual Verbal Ability Test because it has fifteen different languages that can be used to test students for a disability, BUT this test can assess them in their native language. This is much better than many of the other tests in my opinion, which are for the most part only in English or in Spanish. There are many strategies to include the families in this process such as meeting with them often to discuss their child and include them in the process of developing an IEP for their child, if there child has a disability. Furthermore, we can invite the parents to our school for a Potluck and complete cultural assignments that show an appreciation for different cultures. Building trust between the teachers and the parents is the key to all of this. As a historian I will end this blog by stating that America is a melting pot of cultures and inclusion of all cultures is key.

Leave a Reply to Laura Biggins Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar