Working With ELL Students

ELL students benefit especially from many Universal Design and accessibility principles much like other students. ELL students find great benefit in this accessibility due to a variety of factors:

  • Additional focus on context cues, such as intonation, nonverbal expression, objects in the surroundings, and opportunities to ask questions. Many multilingual students have great skill in using multiple cues from face-to-face contexts in order to participate fully. When possible, presentation of course information in multiple modalities will be of great benefit. Provide all instructions both verbally and in writing, and provide captioned recordings of audio materials as much as possible.
  • Heavy cognitive load with high language demands of reading and writing in an additional language. This means more time is needed to process written language in two or more languages (and then formulate thoughts/answers in two or more languages). It also means higher burnout or non-completion of tasks. Consider limiting amounts of text assigned, presenting content in other formats, and/or granting extended deadlines.
  • In-process of developing the cultural capital necessary for academic risk-taking and support-seeking behaviors. This means they may be less likely to speak up in class, participate fully in peer collaboration or evaluation, approach professors with questions or difficulties, etc. Help such students become comfortable with being in office hours by emailing them directly and asking them to set up an appointment to check in or to review after a difficult assessment.

For further tips and resources on inclusive classroom practices, instructor & peer feedback, assignment design & scaffolding, and more, see Teaching Writing to Multilingual International Students in a Small Liberal Arts Setting on the GLCA’s CTL webpage.

Additional resources can be found here. If you would like to consult or ask additional questions, please contact Carla Reyes or Linda Weaver at any time!