How to Engage ELL Students | English Language Learners - Colourful Teaching For You
How to Engage ELL Students | English Language Learners

Today we’re going to talk about how to engage ELL (English Language Learners) students.

Considering how easy it is to travel, many of us have incredibly diverse classes with students from around the world. While this diversity is beautiful, it can also be challenging for teachers because we have to help our children learn a new language.

It can be even more difficult if we don’t speak their language and they don’t speak English.

Not to worry though because there’s a way to accelerate their growth without the following:

  1. Constantly pulling them out of class for special lessons that are only once a week.
  2. Having them feel left out.
  3. Them loosing their language and culture.

The following four steps will help you connect with your students as they learn English.

How to Engage ELL Students | English Language Learners

Actionable Steps:

#1. Integrate Cultural Literature.

Choose culturally sensitive books so that children form a connection with the literature.

Engage them in creative ways of analyzing the material as they learn the new language by indulging in project-based learning about their own culture.

The following is a no-prep step-by-step resource to help your children delve into project-based learning about culture.

Cultural Diversity Resources Project Based Learning Bulletin Board Activities
Cultural Diversity Resources Project Based Learning Bulletin Board Activities
#2. Teach Cross-Curricular Language Skills

When teaching English, don’t just focus on teaching your students phonics or having them learn in small groups and then letting it go for the rest of the day.

Remember that English is immersed in every subject that is taught, so it’s important to teach them the fundamentals in all subject areas so that they can apply their developing language skills to different situations. This will help them develop rich academic language and will set them up for success in all aspects of the curriculum.

#3. Embrace Language Translation

If English is not your student’s first language, it’s really hard to merely think in English. They need to translate it from their language into English. Encourage them to do it out loud so that you can see their thought process and so that their language isn’t stigmatized.  This process provides children with a way of connecting their language to this new one that they’re learning, which increases their chances of retaining their own language and picking up the new one at a quicker pace.

If possible, it’s also beneficial to pair children up with someone from their own culture so that they can speak to each other in their language, develop a connection and learn faster.

#4. Differentiate the Main Curriculum

Just because your student may be from a different country or English is not their first language, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t know the curriculum that you’re teaching. Assess what your students already understand and know, speak slowly and differentiate the same curriculum to meet their needs. This might mean they need to answer fewer questions, answer in a fill-in-the-blanks format or work on more advanced work with you explaining the questions to them in a way that they understand.


Let’s recap really quickly. Today, we looked at the following:

  1. The difficulty of teaching ELL.
  2. Four ways to do it with ease: integrate cultural literature, teach cross-curricular language skills, embrace language translation, and differentiate the main curriculum.

Free Resources:

If your children are struggling to hand in assignments on time, check out the following video training: 3 Steps to Teach Children How to Overcome Procrastination to Increase Productivity.

3 Steps To Teach Children How to Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity

In the mean time, if you’re feeling stressed out, overwhelmed and burnout, then I encourage you to check out the following: FREE MASTERCLASS: Systematic Plan to Super Passionate

Systematic Plan to Super Passionate

Next Steps:

In the meantime, take a moment to answer the question in the following image:

How to Engage ELL Students | English Language Learners

If you found this video beneficial, would you do me a favor? Share this with your family, your friends, your loved ones, your co-workers or someone who you think could benefit from this. Thank you!

I’ll see you next Friday at 5:30pm PST.

Until I see you next time, remember to create, experience & teach from the heart.

Take care,


How to Engage ELL Students | English Language Learners
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