Writing in ESL

     Being that I was credentialed in California, I am CLAD certified, which certifies me to teach ESL students. Well, I find myself teaching academic content in English to native Spanish speakers in Mexico, so I have now had quite a bit experience teaching second-language learners. I would like to begin sharing some of my tips with all of you.
     To begin, if you have never heard of SDAIE, I suggest you check it out. It stands for Specially Designed Academic Instruction in English. It targets the EL student by making the content more accessible, but keeping it in English. It includes a lot of ideas that are really basic and common sense (like using visuals, partners, etc.), so it's very doable in any classroom. In fact, I have said for many years that we should be teaching all of our students this way, not just our EL students.
    Today I am going to share how I teach writing to my students. Like all of you, I would do a mini-lesson first where the class and I write something together. I will take poster paper and use sticky tack to keep it on the board throughout this process.  Once completed, we read the writing together. Then, the students are ready to do their own writing. Our class-created writing remains on the whiteboard for them to refer to. Later it will go onto our language-arts wall until the next whole-class writing project.
    I do process writing with my students, so they typically begin with an illustration (this is specifically because they are EL) as their thinking map. This illustration (which we might otherwise have our students create as a last step) helps them to gather their ideas. From here they can begin to write sentences about what's happening in the illustration. Now that they can see something, the sentences come more quickly than if they were trying to just pull something out of nowhere.
     Since I do a modified version of the Daily 5, I will pull a group to assist those who struggle with their writing. I allow them to dictate sentences to me so I can write them on the board and they copy them down on their papers. If I didn't do this, they would likely sit and stare at their seats. This really helps them to become successful writers.


  1. thank you very much for you posts! I am a college student studying to become an ESL teacher and your insight is very helpful! :)


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