Unit 2, Part B
Teaching and Learning Environments
2. Keys to Effective Communication
English teachers have a great responsibility and accountability for the
academic progress of English language learners (ELLs). School
administrators now realize that classroom teachers need to gain a better
understanding of successful strategies for instructing new learners of
English. It is the ESL teacher’s role to help them with this task.
We can begin this effort by providing professional development on communication
strategies. This can be done at staff meetings, in-service days or by simply putting
this article in teachers’ mailboxes. Would these tips really work positively? Why or why not?
The following tips are keys to good communication that all teachers need to keep
in mind when teaching new learners of English.
o Newcomers need visual and kinesthetic support to understand academic
content material. Use drawings, chalkboard sketches, photographs, and
visual materials to provide clues to meaning. Try mime, gestures or acting
out the meaning of your message. Exaggerate emotions and vary your
voice. Teach your mainstream students to do the same. If necessary,
repeat your actions and rephrase the information.
o Speak in a clear, concise manner at a slightly slower pace using short,
simple sentences (subject-verb-object) and high-frequency words. Your
students will not understand you if you speak too fast or run your words
together. Use the names of people rather than pronouns. Pause after
phrases or short sentences, not after each word. You do not want to distort
the rhythm of the language. Avoid the passive voice, complex sentences,
idiomatic speech and slang.
o Smile and speak in calm, reassuring manner. Raising your voice does not
facilitate comprehension. Your voice should not be too loud. Show your
patience through your facial expressions and body language. Give full
attention to your ELLs and make every effort to understand their attempts
o Allow your new learners of English extra time when listening and speaking.
Many of your ELLs are translating the language they hear to their native
language, formulating a response. And then translating that response into
o It is important for you to check comprehension frequently. Don't ask "Do
you understand?" This is not a reliable check since many students will
answer "yes" when they don't really understand. Teach the phrases "I don't
understand," "Slowly, please," and "Please repeat." Write down
information so students have visual as well as auditory input. Print clearly
and legibly on the chalkboard. Remember that many of your ELLs and
their parents will not understand cursive writing.
Accept one word answers, drawings and gestures. Do not jump in
immediately to supply the words for students or insist that they speak in full
sentences. Resist the urge to overcorrect which will inhibit newcomers so
that they will be less willing to speak. If students respond in heavily
accented or grammatically incorrect English, repeat their answer correctly.
Do not ask the student to repeat your corrected response as this can be
very embarrassing. Allow new learners of English to use a bilingual
dictionary or ask for help from a same language buddy.
If you have important information to convey, speak to the newcomer
individually rather than in front of the class. The anxiety of being in the
spotlight interferes with comprehension. Don't insist that students make
eye contact with you when you are speaking to them. This is considered
rude in many cultures.
Help students to participate in your class by letting them know which
question you are going to ask in advance. This will give your students the
time to prepare a response.
Use choral reading. Your ELLs will want to participate but being the focus
of attention can be traumatic. Remember that your ELLs should
understand what they are reading chorally.
Write key words on the chalkboard so students have visual as well as
auditory input. Emphasize these key words. Since many of your ELLs will
not understand cursive writing, you need to print clearly and legibly. When
writing notes home to parents, print your message and use a pen with
black or blue ink. In some cultures red is the color of death.
Knowledge of questioning strategies is essential in differentiating
instruction for ELLs. Involving English language learners in the discussions
in their content area classes can be frustrating if teachers do not develop
strategies for asking questions. Below is a list of types of questions to ask
from easiest to most difficult.
1. Ask newcomers to point to a picture or word to demonstrate basic
knowledge. “Point to the penguin.
2. Using visual cues, ask simple yes/no questions such as “Are penguins
3. Embed the response in the question using “either/or”. "Is a penguin a
mammal or a bird?”
4. 4. Break complex questions into several steps. Simplify your vocabulary.
Instead of asking “What characteristics do mammals share?" say “Look at
the mammals. Find the bear, the dog and the cat. How are they the same?"
5. Ask simple "how" and "where" questions that can be answered with a
phrase or a short sentence. "Where do penguins live?" Do not expect your
ELLs to answer broad open-ended questions.
o Remember that there will be times when you will not be able to get an idea
across to newcomers. Ask the ESL teacher in your school for a list of
students who speak the newcomer's language. You will be able to call on
these students to act as translators if necessary. Keep in mind that K-2
students do not make good translators.
What conclusion can you reach about the roles of teachers related to the types
of learners they have in their classroom?
2.2.2 Learning Styles
A learning style is the unique way each person learns most effectively. Learning
styles are different approaches or ways of thinking and learning. In other words,
your student’s learning style means how your student is processing and learning
People not only learn at a different pace, but also in different ways. Today it has
become widely accepted that every person is unique and has his/her own way to
While many students learn information best by reading, (they prefer their teachers
write everything out on the board), others learn better through listening or
observing. Some like to work in small groups and discuss a question while others
like to see pictures related to the subjects they are learning.
These learners need to see the teacher’s body language and facial expression to
fully understand the content of a lesson.
5. They tend to prefer sitting at the front of the classroom to avoid visual obstructions
(e.g. people's heads). They may think in pictures and learn best from visual
displays including: diagrams, illustrated text books, posters, videos, flipcharts,
flashcards and hand-outs.
Auditory Learners (Learn through listening)
These types of students learn best through verbal lectures, discussions, talking
things through and listening to what others have to say.
Auditory learners interpret the underlying meanings of speech through listening to
tone of voice, pitch, speed and other nuances. Written information may have little
meaning until it is heard.
These learners often benefit from reading text aloud and using a tape recorder.
Tactile / Kinesthetic Learners (Learn through moving, doing, and touching)
Tactile/Kinesthetic students learn best through a hands-on approach, actively
exploring the physical world around them.
They may find it hard to sit still for long periods and may become distracted by their
need for activity and exploration.
So, what is your learning style?
1. Go to https://s3.amazonaws.com/infographics/Type-of-Learner-800.png
2. Read the infographic.
3. Tell us what type of learner you are.
4. Tell us if you agree or disgree with the information in it. Also, tell us why you
In the next task we will provide you with a practical assessment that will give you a
better idea of your own learning style. Read each one of the items and answer
them in a quick and spontaneous form. Do not spend too much time thinking about
the possible response.
The following assessment will give you a better idea of your own learning style .
A) Score each statement in the columns below by giving yourself the appropriate
number. Do not spend too much time thinking about the possible response.
6. 1 Very Little Like Me 2 A Little Like Me 3 Like Me 4 A Lot Like Me
1. I feel the best way to remember something is to picture it in my head _____
2. I follow oral directions better than written ones _____
3. I often would rather listen to a lecture than read the material in a textbook _____
4. I am constantly fidgeting (e.g. tapping pen, playing with keys in my pocket)
5. I frequently require explanations of diagrams, graphs, or maps _____
6. I work skillfully with my hands to make or repair things _____
7. I often prefer to listen to the radio than read a newspaper _____
8. I typically prefer information to be presented visually, _____
9. I usually prefer to stand while working _____
10. I typically follow written instructions better than oral ones _____
11. I am skillful at designing graphs, charts, and other visual displays _____
12. I generally talk at a fast pace and use my hands more than the average person
to communicate what I want to say _____
13. I frequently sing, hum or whistle to myself _____
14. I am excellent at finding my way around even in unfamiliar surroundings _____
15. I am good at putting jigsaw puzzles together _____
16. I am always on the move _____
17. I excel at visual arts _____
18. I excel at sports _____
19. I'm an avid collector _____
20. I tend to take notes during verbal discussions/lectures to review later _____
21. I am verbally articulate and enjoy participating in discussions or classroom
22. I easily understand and follow directions on maps _____
23. I remember best by writing things down several times or drawing pictures and
24. I need to watch a speaker's facial expressions and body language to fully
understand what they mean _____
25. I frequently use musical jingles to learn things _____
26. I often talk to myself when alone _____
27. I would rather listen to music than view a piece of art work _____
28. I need to actively participate in an activity to learn how to do it _____
29. I frequently tell jokes, stories and make verbal analogies to demonstrate a point
30. I frequently touch others as a show of friendship and camaraderie (e.g.
1, 8, 10, 14, 15, 17, 20, 22, 23, 24
2, 3, 5, 7, 13, 21, 25, 26, 27, 29
Kinesthetic: 4, 6, 9, 11, 12, 16, 18, 19, 28, 30
Have you ever though how important it is to take your students' learning styles into
account when you are teaching English language learners? I believe you have.
The question is, how can you teach each style the best way? Explain.
Teach to Students' Learning Styles
It is especially important to take your students' learning styles into account
when you are teaching English language learners. This section gives a brief
description of each style and how you can teach to it.
It is always important for teachers to teach to their students’ learning styles but this
becomes crucial when teaching English language learners (ELLs). ELLs may be
highly literate in their own language but experience difficulties when acquiring
English because they are accustomed to learning through a different style. Most
American teachers, especially in the upper grades, teach to students with an
auditory learning style. This can be very difficult for the ELLs in your class.
Students with this style will be able to recall what they hear and will prefer oral
instructions. They learn by listening and speaking. These students enjoy talking
and interviewing. They are phonetic readers who enjoy oral reading, choral
reading, and listening to recorded books. They learn best by doing the the
o participating on a panel
o giving oral reports
o participating in oral discussions of written material
8. Visual learners will be able to recall what they see and will prefer written
instructions. These students are sight readers who enjoy reading silently. Better
yet, present information to them with a video. They will learn by observing and
enjoy working with the following:
maps, graphs, charts
text with a lot of pictures
Students with this strength learn best by touching. They understand directions that
they write and will learn best through manipulatives. Try using the Language
Experience Approach (LEA) when teaching these students to read. These students
will also benefit from whole language approaches to reading. They'll learn best by:
o playing board games
o making models
o following instructions to make something
Kinesthetic learners also learn by touching or manipulating objects. They need to
involve their whole body in learning. Total Physical Response is a good ESL
method for them. They remember material best if they act it out. These students
learn best by:
playing games that involve their whole body
following instructions to make something
setting up experiments
Global learners are spontaneous and intuitive. They do not like to be bored.
Information needs to be presented in an interesting manner using attractive
9. materials. Cooperative learning strategies and holistic reading methods work well
with these learners. Global learners learn best through:
Analytic learners plan and organize their work. They focus on details and are
logical. They are phonetic readers and prefer to work individually on activity sheets.
They learn best when:
information is presented in sequential steps
o lessons are structured and teacher-directed
o goals are clear
o requirements are spelled out
Reflect on your own teaching. What is the most noticeable style you adopt in your
classes? Why? After this reflection, how would your teaching may be affected?
Taken from Learning Style Analysis. 2001.
10. Analyze this image and tell us wht you think about the content.
Image taken from http://edudemic.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/7-styles-of-learning-730x877.jpg