Working with English Language Learners

When working with ELL students, we recommend an approach that both acknowledges the difficulty in creating meaning in another language and openly explores that difficulty in conversation with the student. If possible, we strongly encourage teachers to meet with their ELL writers and discuss the ways in which their primary language(s) may influence their English compositions. Rather than focusing on every grammatical error, we suggest that teachers focus on specific patterns of error that could be discussed with a student. Moreover, we encourage teachers to focus on higher-order concerns including, thesis statements, rhetoric, organization and source incorporation that play a significant part in meaning making, instead of dwelling solely on sentence level issues. Focus on what is being done well and attempt to prioritize and specifically target those areas in need of further improvement.

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