In a classroom of 20+ students where you have ELLs at different levels of proficiency you often see students not participating in classroom discussions. It may that they are shy. It may be that they do not understand the content. But most often, it may be that they understand the content but may not be able to say it in their L2 (second language). The following are some strategies the will help facilitate academic accountable talk in your classrooms.
Safe classroom environment
I have the opportunity to walk into classrooms and observe teacher and student interaction. When I began as Bilingual/ ESL Coach I would some teachers say “Okay, go ahead and answer the following question…” and not knowing student’s language proficiency nor background. I totally agree on making students accountable for their learning but when a child is frozen and trying not to be noticed because they do not know how to say it in English (I can relate in my early years as beginner ELL) there is no way you will get that student to respond even if s/he has the answer.
- Make sure you conference with students individually not only to provide strategies when called on during accountable talk but to build rapport with your students.
- Know their names!!! You may only have 20 or 150 but please take time to learn their names… Everyone is important!!!
- It’s okay to make mistakes… Everyone has made mistakes, yes even teachers. Learning a second language is about making mistakes. I always told my students “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not learning!”