3 Strategies for EL Literacy Instruction


3 Strategies for EL Literacy Instruction

In today's diverse classrooms, teachers are tasked with ensuring that all students' needs are met, including those of English Learners. One powerful approach to supporting ELs is leveraging what students already know in order to facilitate the acquisition of English literacy skills.

Teachers can create a supportive and inclusive learning environment by
  • Incorporating visuals alongside target vocabulary
  • Considering shared traits between the languages
  • Frontloading concepts

​Embracing differentiated instruction and offering instructional supports will empower English learner students to excel in their English language literacy journey.

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Use of Visuals  

Visual aids are invaluable tools in literacy instruction, especially for ELs. Visuals bridge the gap between languages and help students comprehend concepts more easily. One strategy teachers can implement immediately in their classrooms is to frontload vocabulary with visual supports.

When introducing new words and new concepts, consider incorporating a visual to provide context and meaning for the new words in the English language. Incorporate the same visuals into your English lessons. This will help students make the connection as they develop in both their oral and academic language in English.


Considering Shared Traits

Understanding the similarities between Spanish and English has been shown to be highly effective in EL literacy instruction. If a student has had pre-exposure, to a shared academic skill concept in Spanish, the understanding of that concept has already been established. This shared knowledge, simplifies the learning process and boosts the student's confidence when applying the shared skill in the new English language.

Be sure to celebrate shared elements between the languages and acknowledge when/if a student points out or notices these similarities as they are being taught in the English language. When applicable, emphasize these similarities to help students leverage their prior knowledge, so that they may confidently approach those same concepts in English.



What is frontloading?  Frontloading is simply highlighting and reviewing key learning points that will be taught in the lesson beforehand. 

How can this be done? Before teaching each lesson you may use visuals and highlight key vocabulary words or terms that will be used or taught within the lesson. If possible you can also have key concepts explained in the native language before you teach your English lesson. 

Frontloading content is highly impactful in the effect that it has, through its ability to create meaning and context for background knowledge, that may otherwise be nonexistent for your English learner. 

Contextualize learning by presenting new vocabulary within meaningful contexts. Use real-life scenarios, pictures, or short sentences to illustrate word usage.

Really Great Reading for ELs understands that “one size does not fit all” when it comes to the varying needs of our English learner students. Apart from our diverse and different languages spoken, there are also varying English proficiency levels that must be considered. Purposeful and thoughtful differentiation is key to meeting each student’s individual needs. Really Great Reading for ELs thoughtfully considers these within our strategies and in the design of our products. s

Honoring existing skill sets and languages is crucial when incorporating best practices for foundational literacy instruction in the English language.  

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