I think one of the most effective strategies for aiding English language learners in the classroom is labeling, especially for brand-new students. Labeling objects around the classroom in the students’ native language and in English can help new students overcome many of the initial language barriers that come with vocabulary usage. Once students are able to master some of the basic words used in and around the classroom, it will gradually become easier for them to follow instruction and communicate with the teacher and peers. Not only does the labeling assist the ELL’s in quicky mastering English, but it also exposes the native English speakers in your classroom to a new language! A definite downside to the practice of labeling is its inability to work in situations that have a variety of different languages in one classroom. Labeling would work best for classrooms that have a large number of Spanish-speaking students, for example.
Another one of my favorite strategies for ELLs is the use of visuals in the clasroom. Although it is a very broad concept, I believe that a picture really does say a thousand words…no matter what language! Through diagrams, illustrations, and photographs, ELLs can help to make sense of the confusing new world around them. Digital cameras are also a great way to make ELL’s feel “at home” in the classroom.