Using Non-linguistic Cues in the ELL Classroom

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Incorporating Nonlinguistic Cues into ELL Instruction Communicating what we want to say, how we want to say it is the goal of expressing ourselves linguistically. For English Language Learners (and their teachers), the ability to do that successfully in their new language presents a challenge. In the content areas of instruction, it is especially important to draw out the information that a student already knows in their native language – even when they do not have the linguistic ability to express themselves in English – in order to assess their level of understanding and engage prior knowledge. Using non-linguistic representations provides a way of bridging that gap between actual understanding and the ability to express that understanding for English Language Learners. For teachers, non-linguistic cues or representations are an effective alternative method in the process of delivering language and content instruction. In this essay, I will discuss why non-linguistic representations work differently than linguistic methods. I will also evaluate selected Teachscape video to discuss how some teachers use these methods, tasks that allow English Language Learner students to develop authentic use of their new language, and the difference between a student-centered and a teacher-centered classroom. When a student learns a new concept, that information is stored in one of two ways - linguistically or non-linguistically. Traditional instructional methods present new concepts linguistically to students; in other words, by having them read and/or listen to the information they are expected to learn. In the student’s long-term memory, that information would be formed in a fashion similar to a sentence. On the other hand, Non-linguistic r... ... middle of paper ... ... in English, it is difficult to assess what they already know, what they understand, and what they have learned. By using non-linguistic representations to bridge the communication gap, English Language Learner instructors can offer a more accessible learning opportunity to all of their students, and better assess their specific content knowledge at every level of their development. References Hill, J., & Miller, K. (2013). Nonlinguistic Representations. Classroom instruction that works with English language learners (2nd ed., pp. 86-98). Alexandria, VA: ASCD. Using SDAIE for English Language Learners. (n.d.). Teachscape Professional Learning Suite. Retrieved May 26, 2014, from
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