If your child is learning another language, it usually takes time for them to go from participating in simple conversations to utilizing academic language in a meaningful way. However, providing extra support for language is not only helpful for English language learners and other second language learners. All learners can benefit from purposeful language activities. Here are 3 significant language teaching strategies to use in the classroom or at home:
1. Use graphic organizers
Graphic organizers are a great starting point for strengthening a student’s language skills. Not only do they provide students with a great visual representation of their thought processes, but they really help students organize ideas. They also help students make connections between vocabulary and concepts. Check out Pinterest for some great examples of graphic organizers for a variety of subjects!
2. Introduce academic language skills with sentence frames
Sentence frames can be a great way to scaffold students towards language use that is relevant in academic conversation. A sentence frame can be as simple as having three words guiding the beginning of a phrase, or just one comparison word in the middle of a sentence to guide a student’s ideas. The Teaching Channel has a great video showing the use of sentence frames in a grade 2 math class, where students use sentence frames in the following circumstances:
When a student is not understanding, they say “I have a question about…”
If a student changes their mind, they could say “I would like to revise my thinking. It’s not 88, it’s 58.”
Pinterest also has a multitude of visual examples from teachers of different types of sentence frames. This is a great resource to use as a starting point! Try having sentence frames written down and visible for students, while at the same time modelling them verbally for your students to see them in action.
3. Explore project-based learning for language acquisition
Projects are a very common teaching tool, but if they are implemented in a thoughtful and carefully planned way, they can have a tremendous impact on children’s’ language learning.
Teaching through a project-based learning model can connect students’ language learning to academic skills and real-life problems. For example, if a student is doing a project on a local social issue or charitable organization, they will learn relevant vocabulary and phrases that they can actually use out in the world while conversing with other people regarding social change.
According to Andrew Miller, collaboration in group projects also provides students with a good situation to practice academic language. This is a great opportunity to use those sentence frames!
Furthermore, project-based learning allows students to choose a type of presentation that best suits their learning and language needs. For example, a student who is more comfortable speaking than writing could do an oral presentation, while a student who is not confident in speaking to a large group could submit a piece of writing. This authentic approach to learning can be a very engaging way for students to strengthen their language skills while forming connections with their classmates and the world around them.
No matter what level of language learning your child is at, these ideas can help bring them one step closer to gaining strong academic language skills.
If you need inspiration for how to carry any of these ideas out, never hesitate to check out Pinterest for some great visual ideas!
And of course, to learn more about building language skills, check out some of our other related posts: