Building Bridges
A Closer Look at Today’s
English Language Learners
By: Hayley Minner
• All students, whether English Language
Learners or not, learn best when
immersed in a comfortable, nonthreatening learning environment where
a relationship is established between the
teacher and the student
• The majority of English Language
Learners are not receiving the education
they deserve. Many are forced to sit in core
classrooms, where they are uncomfortably
ignored and excluded because the teacher
either does not have the training, or the
experience, in working with this unique
• A firm relationship/connection between the
English Language Learner and the core
teacher is nonexistent in most situations.
However, to maximize learning, this bond
is necessary. How can you teach a child
when you don’t know their strengths and
weaknesses, their likes and dislikes, their
cultures and traditions or when they are
not comfortable in your classroom?
Background Information
Cristy Sanchez
8th Grade at SDMS
14 years old
Bubbly, Giggly,
Fun-loving, Happy,
• First entered an English-speaking school
on October 1, 2003
• Cristy arrived to this area from Vera Cruz,
• Had 6 years of formal schooling in her native
language, Spanish
• Cristy is currently taking Algebra I, Integrated
Language Arts, Social Studies, Visual Arts,
Physical Education, Fast Forword, and ESL
Cristy’s Proficiency Levels
Grammatical – Low
Academic – Low
Social – Low
Cristy is identified as a beginner with low English
Proficiency in Reading, Writing, and Speaking.
• Cristy is an introvert when it comes to the L2 but is
an extrovert in L1
• Cristy rarely uses English to communicate only
when necessary.
Integrated Language Arts
• The teacher is not educated on how to include English
Language Learners in to the classroom on a daily basis.
• Relies heavily on the ESL teacher and the Special
Education Teacher for assistance
• Realizes that she is not doing all that she should be
doing for the students, but she’s doing all that she knows
how to do.
• Integrates some ELL-friendly ideas/activities:
*Regular Ed. Students reading in Spanish
*Read Aloud – stop to check for understanding
*Uses guides/charts/maps for organization of ideas
*Teacher-led instruction with examples before
individual completion
*Group work/Pairs
*Extended time or exempt from some assignments
• Currently more comfortable in class because it
is instructed by a student intern.
• He includes the ELLs in discussion and activities.
• Offers help even with the ESL teacher present
• Routine established
• Greets them in Spanish – makes them feel
welcome. (Although all he knows how to say is, “Hi. My
birthday is…” in Spanish)
• This small gesture, broke down a wall that was
present in 2 of my students and in its place, he
began “building a bridge”
What Works for Cristy
Group work/Pairs
Visual Learner
Integrating the native
language in to instruction
• Repetition
• Hands-on activities
• Constantly checking for
meaning and allowing time
for internalization
What Can Be Done?
Teachers can be educated on the
basic strategies for teaching
English Language Learners
through workshops or through
information included in an
“ELL Handbook”
Brown, C. (2004) Powerful strategies for
strengthening the literacy and academic proficiency
of your ESL students. WA: Bureau of Education
and Research.
Brown, H. (2000) Principles of Language
Learning and Teaching, 4th Edition. NY: Addison
Wesley Longman, Inc.
Peregoy, S., Owen, B. (2001) Reading, writing, &
learning in ESL. NY: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.

Building Bridges - Salisbury University